Five Conflict Resolution Strategies
Conflicts are an inevitable phenomenon in any collective. American Management Association (AMA) claims that managers spend about 24% of their workday managing conflicts.
How to correctly respond to disagreements when you have to choose between achieving your goal and maintaining a relationship with a colleague or friend? CMA consulting experts share practical strategies for workplace conflict resolution.
Strategy 1: Evasion
When to use: When you see that your opponent has more power to use against you, at the same time, you are not interested in maintaining the dispute.
Example: two colleagues ask you to mediate in disagreement resolution. They ask for an opinion on who is right in a given situation. You do not have enough information about the positions of each side. It is also more beneficial for you to avoid conflict and maintain good relations with both colleagues than to take sides and lose credibility with either of the participants.
This method lies in delaying the resolution of the conflict. The time gained can be spent on obtaining information and gathering facts to close the issue finally or avoid participating in the dispute altogether.
Strategy 2. Accommodation
When to use: In situations where the opponent is more interested in the conflict while for you, the relationship with the person is essential.
Example: a couple is choosing audio equipment for their apartment. He prefers a modern floor-standing stereo installation for noisy parties. She wants to buy a Crosley turntable. He gives in, wanting to maintain a positive and conflict-free relationship.
The strategy allows you to demonstrate your positive attitude towards the other side. The abandonment of your goal will be noticed; it may also improve the relationship.
Strategy 3. Clash of Interests
When to use: Your interests are more important to you than the opponent’s opinion. Besides, you are confident in your competence in this matter, and you do not care about the other participant’s further attitude towards you.
Example: useful in black PR, in divorce proceedings, when competing for a job position.
The strategy will allow you to express your position quickly, throw out your emotions, and win. Not suitable for those who seek to maintain a good relationship with their opponent.
Strategy 4. Compromise
When to use: every participant is looking for resolution, and each of the parties to the conflict agrees that they will receive less than they initially expected.
Example: you announce a price for your services that exceeds the customer expectations. As a result, both agree on an amount between your expectations and those of the customer.
The strategy will allow you to form an intermediate solution that most accurately satisfies both parties.
Strategy 5. Collaboration
When to use: A relationship is valuable to both parties, and it is vital to achieve your own goal.
Example: you are managing a startup where it is crucial to consider the goals, interests, and concerns of other co-owners or investors.
The “win-win” strategy will help achieve the goal without losing the credibility and authority with the opponent.
Other Guidelines for Conflict Resolution
If there is a disagreement that you want to resolve on your own, it is essential to:
1. Know your position and the position of your opponent.
2. Prepare to listen to and accept the opponent’s opinion.
3. Not offend the person and not interrupt them while they express their position. Mutual respect guarantees understanding!
4. Stay calm. Express your position in a firm and confident tone; do not yell at the other person.
Analyzing the Conflict: Two Effective Techniques
Use them when you need to assess the situation from the outside and find a solution.
Draw the required number of triangles, one for each participant in the conflict. Name the corners of the shape A (attitude), B (behavior), and C (context). In the corners of the triangle, you must indicate information about the parties to the conflict. As you analyze the situation, try to describe the needs of the participants. Bring them to the center of the figure and compare needs, trying to find something in common that can help them to compromise.
The technique is suitable for managers who face disagreements in the department they lead. Draw a tree on the whiteboard or A3 paper. Distribute stickers of different colors to the conflicting parties. Discuss which ones correspond to the root and which ones correspond to the trunk and branches. Participants need to indicate their position on the stickers and set them on the tree. Information about hidden problems is placed at the root, on the trunk – the visible ones, on the branches – thoughts about the conflict’s consequences. Analyze the resulting tree with the whole team and try to formulate ways to resolve the disagreement. For more information on getting past conflict methods, check our blog.
People differ in temperament, work style, and speed of decision making. Conflict in the organization is inevitable, but in any case, it must be constructive. In search of a compromise, with a mix of different temperaments and points of view, the best solutions are born. Therefore, in our specialists’ opinion, the main rule of conflict is listening to all opinions.