Conflicts will arise in the workplace; that’s a guarantee. How those situations are handled, though, can affect a company’s well-being.
The ability to manage and resolve conflict has become a desirable asset in the workplace for managers and employees alike. In 2019, a study by Udemy cited conflict resolution as topping the list of in-demand soft skills that help a candidate stand out in a competitive job market.
Why Conflict Resolution Matters in the Workplace
To understand why conflict resolution skills matter so much to hiring managers, we should first look at how conflict itself affects individuals, teams, and organizations. Conflict can come in many colors, from personality clashes and petty disagreements in meetings to uproar over new policies and outright altercations. Conflicts can arise between staff members, managers and subordinates, or even employees and customers or vendors.
According to a survey from public relations company Cision, the average worker spends 2.8 hours per week dealing with conflict. That same study revealed unresolved conflicts are responsible for about 50 percent of resignations. If the average worker is caught up in conflict for about three hours each week, imagine then how much time supervisors, and maybe even human resources, spend involved in incidents and their aftermath.
Conflict reduces productivity, lowers morale, and creates tension, all of which can increase turnover and, therefore, cost. Simply put, conflict is not good for the bottom line. Keeping the peace is.
Why Conflict Resolutions Skills Give You a Competitive Edge
In addition to possessing the right educational credentials and proper experience to perform the job, employers are also looking for the right soft skills, too. Conflict resolution is among the top ones, according to Monster.com. The job search website says being able to keep the peace is a sign of maturity.
Good conflict resolution skills work together with other leadership qualities, too. For example, individuals who possess the ability to mitigate disagreement also likely have solid interpersonal communication, active listening, interviewing, and problem-solving skills. They’re assertive and have empathy. When people feel cared for and listened to, they’re more at ease at work, which can also mean less conflict.
With the lost productivity and turnover mentioned earlier in this post, it’s clear that hiring someone with conflict resolution skills can have a positive impact. While some managers may let tensions fester, a peacekeeper has the emotional intelligence to read situations and recognize what matters to people—and then responds, rather than ignores. Mitigating issues before they arise reduces the chance for conflict. And when conflicts do happen, addressing them professionally and fairly, as soon as possible, will help minimize their impact and strengthen relationships moving forward.
A master of conflict resolution can contribute to building a healthier work environment, one in which coworkers respect each other. No workplace will ever be perfect, but if disruptions are minimized or prevented, everyone will be happier and therefore more focused on work. Finally, being good at resolving conflicts sets an example for other employees about how to listen and communicate better with everyone, especially those with differing points of view. In a way, peacekeepers help groom tactful, hard-working, and considerate teams.
Whether you’re a manager or not, the ability to be a peacekeeper in the office—and handle incidents effectively when they do occur—is a sought-after skill. If in a job interview you can demonstrate your ability to manage and resolve conflict, you’ll stand out as someone who can maintain, if not boost, morale; increase the health of an organization; and therefore shepherd employees and a company into success.
If you’d like to improve your conflict resolution skills or even pursue a career in peace-keeping or mediation, consider contacting ACU Online for more information about our degree and certificate programs in the field: