Conflict in business is unavoidable. The Business Dictionary defines conflict as friction or opposition resulting from actual or perceived differences or incompatibilities. If you are honest with yourself, you will be able to confess that at some point in your career, you experienced or were involved in conflict, either with a colleague or a superior. The way you respond or react to conflict reflects heavily on your character and can taint your future in business – and not just in your current company, but even in future companies. (Consider who will be giving your references, or who your next superior will be!)
Since it has been established that you will be involved in conflict somewhere along your career path, either through opposing positions, competitive tensions, power struggles, ego, pride, jealousy, performance discrepancies, compensation issues, or someone just having a bad day, you need to know how to respond appropriately.
Here are ways you can deal with conflict effectively, without making a scene or without embarrassing yourself or the other person.
- Talk with the other person.
Talking face to face is a much more effective means of dealing with the issue than over email or text, where tone of voice can be misinterpreted. It also allows you to use your facial expressions and body language to convey your meaning purposefully.
- Focus on behaviour and events, not on personalities.
The last thing you should do when trying to resolve a conflict is to make it personal. This is unnecessary and will immediately place the other person on the defensive, and will shut down any line of effective communication.When you are sitting face to face with the person, approach the situation with: “When this happens …” rather than: “When you do …” And, describe a specific instance or event rather than generalising.
- Listen carefully.
We all know the value of listening. But listening is a difficult skill to tap into when emotions are running high. Rein these emotions in, and:
- listen to what the other person is saying instead of getting ready to react.
- avoid interrupting the other person.once they have finished speaking, calmly rephrase what was said to make sure you understand it.
- ask questions to clarify your understanding.
- Identify points of agreement and disagreement.
In your discussions, summarise the areas of agreement and disagreement. Talk these through until both of you agree on the areas of conflict. Then discuss the areas of conflict that are most important to each of you to resolve.
Knowing how to deal with conflict in business, is so important. You never know which professional relationships will stand you in good stead in the future, or whether the person you dealt so badly with will become your next boss. The act of resolving the conflict will take time, and there is definitely no overnight solution. Resolution can normally be found with conflicts where there is a sincere desire to do so. Turning the other cheek, compromise, forgiveness, compassion, empathy, finding common ground, being an active listener, service above self, and numerous other approaches will always allow one to be successful in building rapport if the underlying desire is strong enough.