Workplace conflict can cause a tremendous amount of stress and lost productivity for organizations. An estimated 60-80 percent of challenges that businesses experience originate with strained relationships developing between coworkers. When this happens, it can cause hardship for people throughout the company. Team members begin to struggle to work together, finish projects, set goals, and behave inappropriately on the job, impacting everyone around them.
On-the-job conflict can also result in higher employee turnover as people see opportunities to escape the tension. For a company, the cost of replacing an employee, can be as much as 150 percent of the employee’s salary. Businesses that want to avoid wasting resources will find that learning to resolve these conflicts and hold onto existing employees serve their long-term goals much better.
Another consequence of unchecked/unresolved conflict is litigation in some cases, which can cost a company dearly. Fortunately, there is a solution.
Bringing successful, productive conflict resolution training and mediation to an organization can reduce costs associated with litigation by as much as 50-80 percent. It also helps to heal relationships between co-workers and encourage optimal productivity once again.
At ACU Online, we want to help organizational leaders who want to learn more about how to bring conflict resolution into their business effectively. So, here is a helpful list of things every professional should know:
Conflict Management for Stronger Relationships
When people do not feel heard or respected, this can quickly erode relationships between people. These walls can then make it a challenge for those involved to work together, leading to increased workplace stress and negative feelings. These feelings of dislike can even start to spread among others in the team as people find themselves agreeing more with one party or the other.
These effective conflict resolution strategies can help to minimize negative feelings and, therefore, preserve relationships and the cohesiveness of the team.
1. Keep personal feelings out of the discussion
Whenever you are involved in a discussion aimed at resolving a dispute, it is crucial to keep personal feelings out of it. Both mediators and those involved in the disagreement must do their best to look at the situation at hand objectively. Attacking someone on a personal level or bringing up past differences or grievances does nothing to help resolve the conflict and instead might aggravate it even further.
Instead, the discussion should focus on the issue that currently impacts the two parties. Work to lay out the facts involved in the incident. This documentation will help each of the parties start to seek a way for the two sides to come together.
2. Give those involved in the disagreement the space to resolve the problem independently
Allowing those directly involved in the disagreement the opportunity to discuss the matter on their own in private can resolve many disputes peacefully. Sometimes engaging others in the problem can intensify the conflict, as they each want the new party to ‘take their side.’ Instead, particularly for minor differences of opinion, giving people the space to lay out their points of view can help lead to a solution with significantly less stress.
Encourage those involved to use helpful ‘I’ sentences and not accusatory ‘you’ statements. This form of discussion will help both sides start to find common ground and then work towards a resolution.
3. Encourage empathy
Walking the members of the disagreeing parties through exercises to encourage their empathy can also benefit the process. Common understanding involves taking a careful look at the other person’s point of view, trying to see how they might perceive the situation.
Empathy and statements of goodwill coming from the mediator can also benefit both. People want to feel appreciated in their roles. When the parties involved in the discussion make a pointed effort to note the positive qualities about the others involved and what they value about the working relationship, it can get the conversation started on a positive note and set it up for success.
This type of strategy also helps to remind the disagreeing parties about the importance of the relationship at stake. By taking their minds off the immediate disagreement and instead encouraging them to remember the likable traits about the coworker, it becomes easier to see the significance of engaging in good-faith conflict management.
4. Recognize that many times, blame needs to be shared
There are very few times when blame for a particular disagreement lies with only one person. Generally, some fault will lie with both parties. The responsibility might not rest entirely equally on both sets of shoulders, but both parties do need to recognize that they have made some mistakes. Realizing these errors and taking the steps required to move forward helps to build goodwill and propels the conflict resolution forward productively.
Conflict Management for Greater Productivity
When members of a group engage in conflict, it can make it substantially harder for them to work together productively. They will not be able to communicate as well as they should and will not feel as actively engaged in the other person’s work. Negative emotions and poor understanding can hinder the group identity and the ability of the team to produce quality work. Fortunately, there are also conflict resolution techniques that target productivity and help everyone work towards a common goal.
1. Focus on collaborative working
You want to bring all the members of your team together and encourage them to engage in collaborative work. Stimulate dialog that reminds them about the mutual goal of achieving professional success. Help them see that despite any personal disagreements, they both have a stake in attaining this particular type of progress. Work to create processes that will allow them to successfully perform their jobs together, even if they do not see eye-to-eye.
After a review of collaborative work, have the parties set goals and the path to reaching them together. Although this strategy might not help the two parties resolve their dispute completely, it will keep them focused on their common goals and help them look past it.
2. Use documented, well-defined terms and roles
Creating standard documents that outline important definitions can help to eliminate disputes that arise from confusion regarding particular jobs. Each member of the team will understand clearly their function, how the team uses specific terms, and how their position fits into the wider goals of the unit and organization. This clarity will increase efficiency and make it easier for people to function uniformly.
Learning Conflict Resolution
Bringing effective conflict resolution skills to your organization can help foster positive relationships between coworkers and also encourage productivity within teams. At ACU Online, we offer flexible programs that help professionals master the various strategies and techniques that they can use to alleviate conflict and benefit their entire business.
Our program will prepare you to meet the rising demand for professionals with conflict-resolution skills in the workplace. Coursework focuses on valuable skills like mediation and negotiation, so you can develop the tools needed to mitigate workplace conflict successfully.
If you want to learn more about how effective conflict resolution can help people and businesses thrive, visit us online today to discover more about our Master of Arts in Conflict Management & Resolution. Or check out our conflict resolution certificate programs. See how these valuable programs can help you propel your career forward.