I always find it really funny when people say ‘I hate confrontation!’
Excluding psychopaths, does anyone like confrontation? I could very happily go for the rest of my life and never have another confrontation. I love a good debate but I prefer it be about the sexiness of Benedict Cumberbatch or how pineapple has no place on a pizza. Serious conflict about things like money, the behaviour of other people or work place arguments can get stuffed. Not into that at all.
Unfortunately they’re unavoidable. Well technically you can avoid them but it’s not advisable. When people ignore issues, they only get worse. I’ve had countless incidences in the past where insignificant issues have snowballed into massive mountains and could have been avoided in the first place if the people involved just talked about it.
It’s never fun to have an argument but they’re bound to happen. Here are some tips for successfully managing conflict…
1. Admit when you’re wrong
Full admission here: I hate getting into trouble. I’m very good at following rules so when I fail at something and I get in trouble, I HATE it. Having said that, I’m also a very good apologiser. I rarely, if ever do horrible things on purpose but I’m human and I will occasionally do something horrible by accident. When that happens, I always admit it, apologise and move on. There’s no point in denying what you did, even if what you did was misconstrued or the person over reacted. You did the thing, apologise, move on and don’t do it again.
2. Don’t enter a conflict with winning as your goal
Enter a conflict with resolution as your goal. This is hard because most people enter conflicts because they think they’re right and they’re defending their position. It’s helpful to enter a disagreement with an open mind and a genuine goal of resolving the issue. For example if you’re doing a lot of unpaid overtime at work and you want the matter resolved, go to your boss with resolution as your goal. This could mean getting paid for the overtime, getting time in lieu for the overtime or not doing the overtime at all. Those are all solutions to the problem and while you may have a preference for one of those solutions, it may not be one that works for your boss. Look at the actual problem (unpaid overtime) and look at all solutions to that problem being good solution, not just the one you want to be the solution.
3. If it’s a particular person you conflict with, try to figure out how to work with their personality
Some people respond well to ego stroking and compliments, other people respond well to being included in your team. Some people need to get ranty about things and other people love a laugh. I worry with all this personality testing that goes on that people arm themselves with information about their own personality and expect others to conform to that when we should all be trying to embrace everyone’s personalities. It’s not pleasant if someone’s reaction to a bad situation is to huff around the office all afternoon but if it happens once a month and they’re a decent person the rest of the time, just embrace it as a thing they do and you have to deal with it.
This week on Straight and Curly, Kelly and I are talking about conflict management and resolution.
- Understanding the cause of the conflict
- Admitting when you’re wrong
- Focussing on a resolution istead of winning
- Recognising your conflict partner’s fighting style
- Choosing your timing and words carefully
You can listen here or on your favourite podcast app.
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