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Conflict is an integral part of life and living and the workplace is a common battlefield. Conflicts arise from diverse reasons such as interpersonal differences in values, motivations, perceptions, ideas, interests or desires, negative perception of other people and situations, different personality types, communication lapses, pride, self-centeredness or dishonesty.
If not well-handled, conflicts can cause great harm to relationships and health, lead to loss of trust and confidence and diminished productivity. When positively addressed, conflicts can provide an opportunity to build trust, strengthen relationships and personal growth.
We all experience conflicts and have ways through which we deal with them. I would like to share five tips to dealing positively with conflicts when they arise in the workplace.
- Respectfully face the issue head-on. Don’t avoid facing the conflict, but seek for wisdom and courage to deal with it. Each conflict has its peculiarities, so seek the wisdom that is peaceable, gentle, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
- Seek first to understand before being understood. This is the 5th habit of highly effective people as espoused by the late Stephen Covey in his landmark book, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. Understand that people have different personalities and temperaments, and the approach to positively dealing with conflict depends largely on who is involved. Focus on issues not persons. Avoid prejudice and being judgmental: ‘Judge not, that you be not judged’.
- Be open and collaborative. Choose a good time and place to trash out the issues with the persons concerned. Let resolution be the aim. Seek a win/win outcome. Listen actively and patiently. ‘If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men’.
- Mind your language. Recognise and respond to things that matter to the other person in a calm, non-defensive, and respectful manner. ‘A soft/gentle answer turns away wrath’. Express your views objectively: ‘Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt’.
- Humility. Accept where you are wrong and make amends. Humility is a defence. Remove the log in your own eye.
Author – Lampe Omoyele