The goal of managing conflict is to guide it toward a positive resolution for all involved. These tips can help with all types of conflict:

  • Address conflict early and meet it head on: Catching conflict before it gets destructive is important. As soon as you see signs of conflict, address the conflict openly and honestly, and start the process of finding a peaceful resolution.
  • Set goals for resolving a conflict: Sometimes finding common ground can take time, but don't let it drag on. Give the parties involved a deadline for solving a conflict and give them consequences for not meeting the deadline.
  • Be honest about concerns: Act as a guide for openness and honesty. Share your fears and concerns and let people know what the consequences of this conflict are likely to be if it continues.
  • Empathize with all sides: Life is full of gray areas, and rarely is there a strict black-and-white, right-or-wrong perspective. Put yourself in each party's shoes and try to understand their anxiety. Then you can you help figure out a resolution.
  • Communicate frequently: Keep the conversation going. Talk through whatever is distressing people and continue to share information and help them break through their fear and find a way to compromise.
  • Agree to disagree: Encourage respect for differences and let people know they don't have to agree with each other to find a solution.
  • Let the people in conflict create their own solution: Guide them, give them insight, and provide a safe outlet for working through a conflict. But don't tell the people involved what to do unless absolutely necessary. If they're able to come up with a solution themselves, they're more likely to be committed to following it through.
  • Discuss differences openly: Take some of the anxiety out of differences by talking about them openly and often. Secrets lead to fear, and fear leads to anxiety and conflict.

If you guide conflict toward a peaceful resolution using some or all of these techniques, you can protect yourself and your employees from being too negatively affected by conflict. In fact, your employees might look forward to friendly conflict as a way to get to the heart of issues.

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