Conflict is a good thing. Let me explain. Conflict between employees is simply a sign of an unmet need. This gives you and your team an opportunity to improve communication and get clarity on the best way to work together toward your common goal. If the best way to improve is to embrace being uncomfortable, then resolving conflict among employees is another thing to embrace and tackle.
When you’re suddenly left to primarily communicate with team members in chat boxes and group threads, even a well-intended smiley emoji can be misconstrued as a passive-aggressive touch.
The year 2020 has been a catalyst for change in countless areas of life and the workplace is no exception.
Overnight, we’re donning our polka-dotted pajama bottoms with pristine, button-up blouses as we login to team meetings and the classic professional handshake has transformed into the elbow-bump.
With social-distancing efforts initiated and the reliance on social interactions through a screen rising, we must not forget: although our workplace functions are becoming increasingly automated and virtual, human beings are still pretty much the same– flaws, emotions, and all.
Conflict resolution is already a subject that is daunting to many. Insert the additional struggles that come with the uniqueness of a virtual workplace and it is even more so. But here’s what you haven’t been told until today: conflict is a good thing… so here are 5 simple steps to conflict resolution that will help you mediate conflict and focus on team bonding– all in a virtual and social-distance-friendly manner.
1. You must accept conflict will occur and is a natural reaction to an unmet need.
Conflict resolution is not a battle of who is right. Simply put, it means two or more people have a difference in opinion which is natural in a group setting as we are diverse in personalities, cultures, age, gender etc. Furthermore, just as people have different ways of communicating when in person, they similarly have different ways of communicating online.
Due to this, conflict can be a daily occurrence.
First understanding and accepting that conflict is a natural reaction to an unmet need will shift the focus from finding who is to blame for the breakdown in communication to working together as a team to find a solution to the unmet need (i.e. the true source of the issue).
2. Truly listen to everything that is being said.
Most of us have a poor habit of crafting our rebuttal while the other party is sharing their perspective. Refrain from this because in doing so, you will miss something important in the story. When you listen to everything and truly try to understand where the other person is coming from, your conflict resolution efforts are much more likely to succeed in the end.
3. Do not take it personally.
This is not about you. Your job is to hear what is being said and solve the problem as quickly and kindly as possible. You must learn to separate your strong personal feelings and emotions from the task at hand if they are hindering the conflict resolution process. There needs to be no clouded judgment or bias on your end.
It can be difficult to do this at first. Nevertheless, being intentional about not taking things personally does more good than ignoring this step completely.
4. Put yourself in their place and then respond. Do not react.
If you look at the situation from their point of view you may get clues on how to be creative and resolve the issue as quickly as possible. There is truly a difference between responding and reacting. A response is calculated and done with intention. A reaction, however, is more spontaneous and void of premeditation.
When you empathize with the other party or parties, you force yourself to think for a moment. Being able to see yourself in them may be able to help you understand their actions. Ah, you might think to yourself, Jessica does have to deal with 3 young children and work on this strict presentation deadline at the same time. She probably isn’t getting much sleep. I understand why she might have responded that way to Janet when she asked her to edit another document on top of what she already has.
5. At all costs, preserve the relationship.
You never know who you are speaking with and how you may cross paths again. No one is insignificant. Everyone is to be respected. From the unpaid intern to the big-time CEO, remember that you all are a part of a bigger network working towards a company goal. If someone brings something to your attention, give them some dedicated time and obvious effort. Everyone’s role is necessary and thus, everyone should feel appreciated.
Don’t flee from conflict, embrace it. It’s a good thing. Allow it to make you and your team better by handling it in the most constructive way. Conflict resolution is simply another business day task, much like receiving mail or getting your morning cup of caffeine. All teams need conflict resolution training to ensure teamwork is at its best. In this new virtual environment, your team is going to need more support in communicating through unmet needs.
Book a complimentary discovery call to discuss your team’s effectiveness or call 404.981.1155.