When you think of where you’d like to work after you graduate from college, any number of things may come to mind.
Most people like to think that they’ll be surrounded by coworkers who will be easy to get along with.
Unfortunately, that won’t always be the case.
Not everyone is a team player. Even those who are may occasionally succumb to tension or the stress of their job. Either way, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll eventually have to deal with some kind of work-related conflict.
This is when having conflict resolution skills is extremely important.
4 Conflict Resolution Skills You Should Develop Right Away
While you always want to resolve an issue someone has with you, conflict resolution skills are also helpful when you see that a problem is brewing between others.
Aside from their obvious benefits, skills will show that you’re a leader and someone who is able to manage people effectively. That could earn you a promotion and will certainly make you more valuable to your employer.
1. Keeping Your Cool
Conflict tends to breed conflict. At the very least, it certainly spreads unrest. When one person gets worked up and starts acting out, some people can’t keep themselves from joining in.
This doesn’t mean that they’re also confrontational. Some people will react by shutting down or becoming uncomfortable or simply leaving the area altogether.
If you’re able to keep your cool, then you can be a part of the solution. Otherwise, you’re only contributing to the problem and making it worse.
Often, this realization is all it takes. When you understand that the best response to conflict is calm, you will have a much easier time remaining so.
That said, it can also help to practice remaining calm at work throughout the day. Fortunately, this is incredibly easy to do. Several times during your workday, take a moment to stop and concentrate on your breath – nothing else.
Make it a habit. For example, whenever you sit down, take a few seconds to only focus on your breathing. This kind of meditative practice isn’t time-consuming, but it will help you remain calm throughout the day, which will be very helpful if conflict breaks out.
2. Always Listen First
One of the worst things you can do when one or more people are upset is jump to conclusions. Even if you have the best of intentions, a single mistaken assumption is like dumping gasoline on the fire.
In the famous book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen Covey recommends you “seek first to understand.” In fact, the author thought that point so important that he dedicated an entire chapter to it.
This is much easier to do if you’re able to remain calm, but it can still be tempting at times to decide you’ve heard enough when someone is angry.
Don’t give in.
Hear the person out and do so with the genuine intention of trying to understand their perspective.
This isn’t some trick. You’re not just pretending to care. You really do want to get to the bottom of the conflict. That’s the only way you’ll be able to resolve it and prevent it from happening again.
3. Find Common Ground
The other advantage to letting the other person talk first is that it gives you an opportunity to find common ground. Once you’re able to empathize with the person, it will be much easier to implement these other conflict resolution skills.
If nothing else, the person will begin to see you as someone who isn’t necessarily against them and may even have an acceptable solution.
For example, say one of your coworkers is upset because a customer was rude to them. Maybe they feel as though the rest of the staff hasn’t supported them, either.
As we discussed above, stay calm and hear them out. Then, after they’ve finished speaking, you can describe a time when the same thing happened to you. At the very least, your coworker now knows you understand their frustration.
4. Look for the Win-Win Solution
When a conflict involves two coworkers who are actively arguing, you need to use your conflict resolution skills to work for a win-win resolution.
This is not the same thing as making both sides compromise. Those look good on paper, but they’re often only a temporary solution. One side will feel slighted and it will usually only be a matter of time before they reengage the other party.
The first thing you need to do – besides remain calm – is to listen to both sides. This might involve digging a bit deeper to the underlying concern behind their anger.
For example, Team Member A might express frustration over Team Member B’s work ethic. They feel as though Team Member B isn’t pulling their weight. Maybe that’s really all there is to it or maybe Team Member A feels as though they don’t get enough recognition for how hard they work. Maybe they feel like they’ve been passed over for a recent promotion.
Once you get to the root of the conflict, ask everyone involved to help find a solution that will fully address it. You can suggest an option, but don’t force it on them. Ideally, you want all parties to agree on the solution – win-win – without making anyone give up ground.
In the above example, the win-win solution may be to find a way that Team Member B’s performance doesn’t affect the compensation of Team Member A. You can even speak to the latter about possible opportunities for promotion coming up and volunteering to help them prepare.
Looking for Help Building Your Conflict Resolution Skills?
At IntelliTec College, our passion is helping students learn the skills they need to find work in a number of different trades.
However, our career services department is also very adept at helping students position themselves as valuable candidates in terms of soft skills, too. So if you would like further help developing your ability to resolve conflicts, they’re here to help.
Contact us today and we’ll send you information about whichever program you’re most interested in. Once you’re a student our career advisors will be more than happy to assist you in building all kinds of important skills.
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