Conflict is a natural part of the workplace experience and we have a choice as to how we navigate through it – will it be productive and effective, or will it be negative and detrimental, or somewhere in between? When handled well, conflict is an opportunity for growth and change, and even improved relationships. When handled poorly, it breaks down relationships, diminishes trust, and wreaks havoc on productivity. According to research, positive workplace events, such as effective conflict management, enhances health, our ability to flourish, and expands ideas, actions, and solutions. Conversely, negative workplace events narrow our ability to think, take action, and find solutions¹ and have a detrimental impact on health and our ability to thrive¹.
So our conflict skills either add to or detract from the quality of the workplace experience, ultimately affecting the bottom line. In fact, according to Inc., unhealthy conflict costs U.S. businesses approximately $359 billion each year due to illness and absenteeism, reduced productivity, and poor communication² among other factors.
Here are some simple steps you can take to become more effective when dealing with conflict and enhance your workplace environment:
- Seek to understand, rather than trying to be understood
- Ask questions
- Use “I” rather than “You” language
- Be emotionally intelligent (integrating your emotions with your thinking)
- Take a break and revisit the issue when things calm down
- Focus on the process, not the outcome
- Remember to maintain the relationship rather than winning at all costs
- Maintain a calm voice tone
Effective conflict management is an effective tool that will significantly improve any business environment when utilized consistently. Challenge yourself to use the aforementioned steps and watch your workplace experience transform.
¹ Bono, Joyce, Glomb, Theresa, Shen, Winny, Kim, Eugene, and Koch, Amanda. Building Positive Resources: Effects of Positive Events and Positive Reflection on Work Stress and Health. 2010.
² Winfrey, Graham. Inc. http://www.inc.com/graham-winfrey/the-shocking-cost-of-workplace-conflicts.html The Shocking Cost of Workplace Conflicts (Infographic)