The Art of Managing Conflict: How to Control and Encourage It
The main benefit of healthy conflict is the exchanging of differing viewpoints and ideas. Healthy conflict can help to solidify a particular point or expose potential weakness in its rationale. If everyone agreed on every item without conflict, mankind still would be writing with a chisel and stone tablet. Let's not confuse conflict with combat. Combat occurs when one or more individuals take a stand on a particular subject regardless of the validity concerning the subject and without the possibility of compromise.
I will be the first to state that the subject of managing conflict is much easier to write and speak about than to implement; with that said, realizing that one has a problem in that area is the first step in managing conflict. For this reason, everyone should understand that managing conflict must be an ongoing learning experience for each of us.
To begin managing conflict, managers and leaders must know what results they are looking for. The results and the ideal situation is where effective conflict management begins. The first question asked should always be, what can I do to resolve this situation that may be favorable to all parties? Remembering that we must always attack the problem and never the person we should always avoid using the word "you".
Finding commonality with other individuals works magic; people feel comfortable with people that they feel they are just like them or that sees the world from their perspective. Rarely, will a conflict allow such an easy way out. Using previous relationships that was established with past successes is also a good method of finding commonality.
Make sure the conflicting parties explain to you what the issues are from their perspective. The best way to ensure that both parties are speaking the same language is to ask the exact same questions to each party independently. Having each party to explain what the issues are and what they feel the best solution is, helps you make sure that you are dealing with the exact same perceived issues. Many times, the conflict is simply miscommunications of two parties talking at each other in lieu of communicating with each other.
Sometimes reminding all parties of organizational policies and procedures as well as the acceptable norm in the corporate culture; works wonders and helps all parties bring their conflict into a proper perspective. Developing a reputation of being a good listener, peacemaker, fair-minded, and results oriented, helps to enter into a conflict with credibility and a edge over most managers. Constantly go to work on developing the pseudo-psychology skills that all managers desperately need.