Confrontation, adversarial, clash in personalities…do any of these things hit home to you? Dealing with conflictual issues, in your office, home or your volunteer can be hard and very stressful, especially if dealing with these issues takes you out of your comfort zone.
Conflict can come in many forms for different people. Giving one tool or scenario to fit everyone will not work. Understanding the conflict can be one of the hardest things to do. When I was a teenager, I worked for a hotel chain where I worked hard and made it up the “ranks” so to speak. I became a supervisor who checked all of the rooms cleaned to make sure sheets were changed (believe me, it happens where maids don’t change the sheets), tubs were left with no soap residue, etc. Keep in mind, I was younger than many or the same age. There was this girl who was close to the same age. I knew her well because we were from competing schools and played against each other in sports. I thought we got along fine. We laughed and joked together at breaks. We played pranks on each other (that is what we did to get through cleaning others mess). I didn’t see any conflict. We were both doing our jobs. One day, I was assigned to her block of rooms and I had to write her up on several things she wasn’t doing. They just had to go back and do what they missed. From then on she wouldn’t talk or joke with me anymore. She did some back biting to my boss which caused some major friction. At 14, I went to my boss and asked for a meeting to get it straightened out. My boss called her in and I confronted her with all that was going on. She defended and spoke half-truths. I was devastated. To think someone disliked me that much. Luckily for me, my boss knew me and knew I wouldn’t do the things that she said and she was reprimanded. While things were tense between us for a long time it wasn’t such a blatant attempt to undermine me. So in this instance, I was working on a resolution to the situation and it became something we both could live with. My boss began working on the conflict management where she didn’t assign me to her rooms anymore.
Some people like to create conflict but more times than not it just happens. Maybe values of those in conflict are different or maybe they don’t know or understand each other’s “story” – who they are as a person. I will always quote Meg Wheatley on these situations “You can’t hate someone whose story you know”. That statement can be true for many situations.
Page 2 of 2 - Here are some things to consider when dealing with conflict:
1. Don’t ignore thinking it will just go away because in most cases it will not
2. Don’t confront individuals alone
3. Listen intently and with interest in what the other person(s) have to say
4. Be clear and concise
5. Conflict deals with emotions – understand those emotions that are causing the conflict
6. Talk about possible solutions
7. Negotiate a solution that is in the best interest of everyone involved.
Once a solution is agreed upon, then it is time to use conflict management. Maintaining what the resolution started.
For more information, contact Becky Wolfe at Leadership Butler – firstname.lastname@example.org