Blog: 5 Ways to Keep the Peace
“We don’t achieve harmony when everyone sings the same note. Only notes that are different can harmonise. The same is true with people.” Archana Bhatia, Training Lead, Hopscotch.
Disagreements, arguments, annoyances and differences of opinion... Ever been affected? Yep, us too. Conflicts are a part of every day life, whether you're in an office, out and about or at home with the family. What's important is not to avoid or ignore them, but just how you tackle them in an effective manner that leads to solutions.
Here our Training Lead, Archana, gives a taster of a module we regularly deliver to our clients and explains how you can use it to your advantage in every situation....
The dictionary definition of conflict - a serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one, incompatible or at variance with – gives cause for people to believe that conflict is an ominous sign that ‘all is not well”. But conflict is a given in today’s organization with employees working across geographies, cultures, cross functionally and in highly matrixed structures. If managed in a constructive manner, conflict can result in innovative ideas, real progress and better relationships. The first challenge is to acknowledge that conflict exists, second is to accept that it is uncomfortable and the last is the most difficult - to tackle it anyway!
Here are some tips that can help ease the discomfort of managing conflict:
1. Pick your battles!
If you have teenagers, this one will be familiar... Not every opinion and idea that runs contrary to yours needs to be addressed. Check if it is a ‘storm in a teacup” – i.e. if it has little impact on organisation/ function/ individual performance and relationships, don’t waste precious time on it. Always take the time to question the level of importance of the matter at hand.
2. Be self-aware and socially aware
Just as we have different personalities, so we have varied styles of handling conflict. The five basic styles are below, which one is yours?
Gladiator - might is right
Hydra - two heads are better than one
Compromiser - finding the middle ground
People pleaser - putting others needs first
Ostrich - head in the sand
Each style has its pros and cons and its success is dependent upon the situation at hand – imagine you have to respond to a customer complaint immediately and you need to resolve this with a team member. Being a hydra, which involves asking open ended questions, facilitating a dialogue and encouraging diverse solutions might not be the best style in that situation! Being a gladiator maybe the need of the hour.
But knowing one’s own style is not enough - study and observe the person you need to engage with and modify your approach taking into consideration their conflict handling style and do the best you can to harness diversity and cultural differences.
3. Reframe and re-interpret – from an opposing mindset to an opportunity mindset
The way we feel about a situation or a person often determines our behaviour. In order to have a constructive dialogue, re-frame your thinking about the conflict. Think of it as an opportunity to open the door on dialogue and close the door on negative thoughts and feelings. Ask curious and clarifying questions about the person and the situation
What did they mean when they said/ did this? (not what you perceived their action to mean)
What are they doing that is causing me annoyance/anger? (focus on the behaviour of the person and not their personal characteristics)
Which of my values is being challenged by this person’s behaviour? (this helps focus on why you are unable to see from the other person’s point of view).
4. Agree on the objective/ expectations, a framework for resolution, escalation and acceptable behaviour
This is a tall order but has to be done. I have been witness to countless failed conversations because people come in with different objectives and expectations. Often times, if one person is more senior in hierarchy they consider it their prerogative to channel their opinions and feelings in a loud and aggressive manner.
5. Be quick
Don’t let the conflict fester. The situation is similar to a dormant volcano which, when left unattended, can be the cause of great destruction.
So, the next time you try to escape a conflict situation, think of this, “we don’t reach harmony when everyone sings the same note. Only notes that are different can harmonise. The same is true with people.”
Posted: March 18, 2018
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