Dealing with Workplace Conflict

There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently.

–   Robert Evans

Difference of opinion, disagreement, opposing perspectives are all part of our everyday life. Conflict is inevitable and natural and if you work and share space and time with people, it is bound to create situations of conflict. A world without conflict would be dull, unidimensional and devoid of opinions which would make no room for course correction.

Instead of stressing about it, it is good to eliminate the negativity around conflict and embrace all that is positive in such circumstances. Workplaces are by design diverse and the ability of people to manage conflict can go a long way in their career paths. Responding and resolving conflict can enable the success of people and teams.

Learning conflict management and conflict resolution will lead to an exploration of positive aspects of conflict and can in an organisational setting, enhance perspectives and outcomes and promote a better culture that is welcome to differences of thought and action.

Personally, I hate conflict and more so the approach to conflict that most people tend to take and that is making conflict a personal issue while almost at every instance its contextual to a condition or situation. But, often, we tend to look at it as linked to the person and internalise the issue. Over time, I have also learned that conflict can be cathartic if dealt with properly.

There are several models and theories of conflict management and resolution that can be used to learn to manage it better. Here are some personal learnings when it comes to understanding and navigating through this quagmire.

  • Being aware of situations of conflict is key to recognising and putting into practice management or resolution mechanisms
  • Responding and not reacting is important as a reaction is usually off-the-cuff while a response is more thought through
  • Understanding the conflicted party or parties and their context and mindset is a good way to learn to navigate the conversations that arise and assess the intensity of the situation
  • Acting maturely and dealing with negative situations more confidently. It is good to understand who you are as a person and how you operate and work on the areas that need improvement overall so that you are prepared and know how you feel and react.
  • Listening – It’s important to be heard but it is more important to listen and let all opinions or thoughts be aired before approaching the solution.
  • Finding a middle ground – Sometimes, everyone is right and finding a middle ground is probably the only way forward.
  • Knowing that the world and us as people are eternally learning and nothing is black or white but that we live in a world of grey while we define and redefine what works and what does not
  • Understanding that perspectives are contextual to backgrounds, upbringing, mental makeup, exposure to the world, mindsets and so much more can also help drive conversations to outcomes
  • Understanding that if a strong belief system or ideology can exist for me, an opposing ideology or belief system can exist with the same amount of conviction for someone else
  • Realising that all battles don’t need to be won – You win some and you lose some and that reality check is crucial to know that all days can’t be the same and that some days are worse than others
  • It’s ok to let go, it’s alright to agree to disagree and move on from the point of conflict because nothing is set in stone and it’s ok to be diametrically opposed yet nurture a comfortable equanimity in relationships.
  • Steer clear from destructive conflict as it saps energy and puts you in a difficult space
  • Use language and tonality that is neutral and diplomatic and ensure that there is no negativity in your approach to the issue
  • Agree on a common way forward and implement the discussion into tangible outcomes
  • Revisit the situation and see how it has panned out for future reference as everything is an experience and an opportunity to learn
  • Sometimes, a conflict may need an external intervention if it cannot be resolved by the parties involved, so it may become imperative to involve a neutral third party who has no vested interests to help mediate
  • If all else fails, it’s good to let go and move on
  • Empathy and EQ can be best friends in such situations and can also help in building better leadership skills
  • Read up on conflict management modules and resolution tactics

Wow!

This made me realise how many situations of conflict I have been a part of in some form and how much I have learnt from each one of them. It also reminds me that every situation is unique and there is no band-aid fix that can be applied. You learn on the go, do your best and hope that the best outcomes find you…

Shreya Krishnan
Vice President - Marketing and Communications at Anviti Insurance Brokers
Shreya is a CSR Specialist and Corporate Grooming Consultant. Her interests lie in Activism, Dance, Theatre, Poetry, Blogging, Modelling, Acting. She considers herself an Earth Warrior and is an Event Anchor and Trainer. She is a Pageant Winner and public speaker.

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