Conflict is a natural part of life, and it is especially common in the workplace. Different personalities, perspectives, and goals can often lead to disagreements and misunderstandings. While conflict can be disruptive and damaging, it can also be an opportunity for growth and improvement.
Effective conflict resolution or confrontation is a crucial skill for leaders. Leaders who are able to confront issues effectively can create a more positive and productive work environment, build stronger relationships with their team members, promote collaboration and innovation, and are likely to achieve more of the results they want.
Why is effective confrontation, or conflict resolution, so important for leaders?
There are many reasons why it is so important for leaders. Here are just a few:
- To create a positive and productive work environment. Conflict can be a major source of stress and negativity in the workplace. When conflict is not resolved effectively, it can lead to decreased morale, productivity, and engagement. Leaders who are able to resolve conflict effectively can help to create a more positive and productive work environment for everyone.
- To enrich relationships with team members. Conflict can also damage relationships between team members. When conflict is not resolved effectively, it can lead to resentment, distrust, and communication problems. Leaders who are able to confront issues effectively can help to enrich relationships between team members, which can lead to improved collaboration and performance.
- To promote collaboration and innovation. Conflict can also stifle collaboration and innovation. When team members are in conflict, they are less likely to be willing to share ideas and work together. Leaders who are able to confront issues effectively can help to create a more collaborative and innovative work environment, which can lead to better outcomes for the team and the organization.
Many of us feel fear, anger, discomfort, or anxiety about clearly confronting issues with others. We often find justifications for avoiding the conversation altogether. We wind up with resentment, which is very stress producing and it leaves the other person in charge. We give over our power. It also takes a physical and mental toll, building stress over time. The irony is that the very outcomes we fear in confronting an issue are practically guaranteed to show up if we don’t address the issue.
Instead of looking at confrontation as something to be armed and armored for, ready for a battle, look at conflict resolution as a search for the truth, for understanding the root cause of what is happening.
How can leaders develop their ability to effectively confront issues?
Here are some specific strategies that leaders can use to confront issues effectively:
- Meet with the parties involved individually.
- Go into the conversation with curiosity to find out the root cause of the issue. This will give you a chance to hear each person’s side of the story and to get a better understanding of the situation.
- Name the specific issue. If you have many issues with the person, choose the most important one, or see if there is one over-arching issue. Remember, just one issue, and be specific.
- Give specific examples of the issue you are confronting.
- Describe your emotions around the issue. Talking about emotions is intimate and disarming. Emotions make it personal.
- Clarify what is at stake to gain when the issue is resolved; what’s at stake for them, for the team, and for the company.
- Indicate your wish to resolve the issue. This indicates good intentions.
- Invite them to share their perspective, and their side of the story, and go into active listening mode.
- Get curious, ask clarifying questions, and allow the person to express themselves clearly. Ask more questions and repeat what you’ve heard to make sure you’re understanding them correctly, and to let them know you are truly listening.
- Clearly state your intention and restate the issue to come full circle. Restating the issue refocuses the other person’s attention on the issue.
- Brainstorm solutions together. This can help to foster collaboration and to generate creative solutions.
- Help them to evaluate the different solutions and to choose the one that is best for everyone involved.
- Make the agreement.
**Be sure to follow up to make sure that the solution is working and that the issue has been resolved.
Confronting issues effectively is a crucial skill for leadership.
Leaders who are able to do this can create a more positive and productive work environment, build stronger relationships with their team members, and promote collaboration and innovation.
Here are some additional tips for effective conflict resolution:
- Stay calm and collected – when resolving conflict. Avoid getting emotional or defensive.
- Be respectful – Even if you disagree with the other person, it is important to treat them with respect.
- Listen actively – When the other person is speaking, listen actively and try to understand their perspective.
- Show empathy – being able to see conflict from another’s point of view to avoid bringing one’s own preconceptions to the table
- Be willing to apologize – If you have made a mistake, be willing to apologize.
- Be forgiving – If the other person has made a mistake, be willing to forgive them.
If you are a leader, it is important to invest time and effort in developing your conflict resolution skills. One resource available to help you do this is the Fierce Confront conversation training and workshops.
Remember, confronting and conflict resolution are not conversations to be feared or avoided. Ensuring that these conversations take place is up to you. In other words, if you know something must change, then know that it is you who must initiate the change.