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Three Tips to Resolve Conflicts More Effectively

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Leadership and conflict go hand-in-hand. Leadership is a full-contact sport, and if you cannot or will not address conflict in a healthy, productive fashion, you should not be in a leadership role. While you can try and avoid conflict (bad idea), you cannot escape conflict. The ability to bring swift and just resolution to conflict will serve you well as a leader — the inability to do so may well be your downfall.

It is not at all uncommon to see what might have been a non-event manifest itself into a monumental problem if not resolved early on.

Leaders who don’t deal with conflict will eventually watch their good talent walk out the door in search of a healthier and safer work environment.

The following tips will help you more effectively handle conflicts in the workplace:
1. Understanding the WIIFM Factor: Understanding the other person’s “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM) position is critical. If you approach conflict from the perspective of taking the action that will help others best achieve their goals, you will find few obstacles will stand in your way with regard to resolving conflict.

2. The Importance Factor: If the issue, circumstance or situation is important enough, and there is enough at stake, people will do what is necessary to open lines of communication and close positional and/or philosophical gaps.

3. View Conflict as Opportunity: Hidden within virtually every conflict is the potential for a tremendous teaching/learning opportunity. Smart leaders look for the upside in all differing opinions. I believe resolution can normally be found with conflicts where there is a sincere
desire to do so. Compromise, forgiveness, empathy, finding common ground, being an active listener, and numerous other approaches will always allow one to be successful in building rapport if the underlying desire is strong enough.

Need more training on how to deal with conflict in the workplace? The Association
can help. For information about our regionally recognized professional development courses, please contact Dan Monaghan at 814/833-3200, 800/815-2660 or dmonaghan@mbausa.org.