SELF HELP RESOURCE - Work / Workplace Relationships


A Conflict in itself is not a problem but when a conflict is poorly managed is when it becomes a problem At times a minor conflict can transform into a major problem because of how it is handled or rather mishandled. The fact is that many times the resolution of a conflict can result in a closer bond between two people or a more complete understanding of an issue by a group.

How you approach conflict could make your life tougher or easier for you. Here are some suggestions to explore how to handle conflict:

1. When confronted by an angry or hostile person, take a moment to consider your response, rather than reacting in the same way or being defensive.

2. When a conflicting situation arises, try to see your part in the situation and be willing to take responsibility for it instead of blaming others or denying any responsibility.

3. During the conflict stay with the issue do not try to change the subject or bring up the past.

4. Listen to others with an open mind and be prepared to explore different options for resolutions instead of insisting on your way.

5. Ask for clarification when you don't understand something, rather than jumping to conclusions about what is being said.

6. Establish boundaries during conflicts and do not allow anyone to verbally or physically abuse you.

7. When a resolution can't be reached, be willing to consult a neutral person to help resolve the situation.

8. Remember conflicts are not going to disappear by trying to avoid or downplaying them. The fact is, unresolved conflicts make people terribly unhappy at work.

9. Most important it is incorrect to think that winning a conflict will buy you peace. You can never win in a conflict you can only resolve it.

Getting things the way you want regardless of what the other person wanted may give you a sense of control and gratification but will not solve the issue which will simply reappear later. Therefore rather than winning our aim should be to resolve the conflict.

Let's take the case of Sanchita and her Manager. The Manager would like all employees reporting at 9 am rather than the usual 9.30am. Sanchita has to drop her child to school and since the implementation of the new schedule, has come in late a couple of times. The manager gets the impression that Sanchita is deliberately not following the revised work schedule. The 2 possible outcomes of this situation could be as follows:

# 1 The Manager confronts Sanchita showing his annoyance very plainly. Sanchita who was already under pressure trying her best to adjust to the new work schedule felt that the manager was being unreasonable and unfair and became defensive. The Manager in turn tried to tell her who the boss was. After the discussion the manager felt Sanchita was lazy and indisciplined while Sanchita felt her Boss was biased against her .The situation got worse, and on rare occasions when Sanchita was a few minutes late the boss was unreasonably critical of her tardiness. Sanchita felt angry and frustrated and started taking longer coffee breaks and reporting sick more often .And inevitably the other staff got sucked into the conflict with the situation becoming increasingly polarized. And soon what was initially just a perception became a reality; the Manager did not lose an opportunity to get back at Sanchita while she acted lazy and uncaring.

Outcome: The original issue was all but forgotten as they developed intense dislike of each other.

# 2 Rather than trying to prove that he is the BOSS the Manager approaches Sanchita and clearly articulates the reason why he wants the staff in at 9am she in turn shares her difficulty with him. After discussing and understanding each others needs they try to approach the problem with the intention of solving rather than trying to be one up. They realize that the number of calls to be handled at nine are not many and can be easily handled by the other staff who prefer to be in at 9am. While between 5-7pm there are many calls which could be handled by Sanchita if she stayed back in lieu of coming later. The working hours are modified to suit all and the situation is resolved amicably with no losers or winners.

Outcome: Sanchita is happy and appreciative of her Manager. The Manager gets a happier and more productive employee. These benefits were an outcome of the conflict well resolved.

The benefits would never have occurred if this conflict hadn't occurred, or if either party played the situation as if it was a game to be won by one person or the other.

Conflicts arise not only at workplace but even in relationships or at home, and can become unpleasant and hurt relationships, example:
· I want to save for a car she wants to go on a vacation
· I want to spend time with my family and friends he wants us to spend time only with each other.
· I want to send the children to a school close to the house she prefers the fancy school a little away from home
· He always messes the house I am tired of doing all the work. And so on......

However if handled effectively these conflicts can help us to enrich and deepen our relationship and get to know ourselves and each other better.

Latest Comments

anandvijaykumar88 on 19 Nov 2019, 15:02 PM

Nice read

sreepathyk on 08 Nov 2019, 12:28 PM

It can be an added information if the situation 2 doesn't work .. how to handle

santosh72 on 06 Apr 2017, 19:56 PM

Nice article