Strategies for Responding to Conflict

By Canadian Management Centre

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No one likes conflict in the workplace. Here are some tips to help you neutralize any situation.

  1. Regain Your Composure & Assess the Situation When you start to feel the physiological effects of conflict, pause and take a few deep breaths before taking any action. Calming yourself down to re-engage your ‘primate brain’ will allow you to reflect on the situation and relationships involved. This will ensure you don’t ‘react’ with a flight or fight response, but rather respond with a focus on resolution.
  2. De-Personalize the Impact It’s easy to feel under attack when engaged in a conflict. Our emotions are triggered by the emotions of others. It is important to separate our perceptions from reality and also from the intentions of the other person. When you’re in a more rational frame of mind, you can calmly reflect on the situation to take the sting out of what may be happening.
  3. Dig Deeper & Suspend Judgement Misunderstandings and miscommunications are often at the root of conflicts that have escalated. We often react emotionally without trying to understand more about the other person’s interests or perspectives. Take the time to ask questions to build a greater awareness of what may be influencing the response of the other person.
  4. Be Empathetic & Show Vulnerability When you dig deeper, listen with an empathetic ear. Being empathetic isn’t about ‘agreeing’, it’s about understanding. Acknowledging how someone else is feeling and how you may have contributed to their concerns or perception is essential to neutralizing the situation. Once someone feels acknowledged, they will be willing to engage in a productive dialogue.
  5. Ask for Collaboration A win-win approach for conflict can only be achieved when all issues and concerns are in the open. Modeling the behaviour to neutralize a conflict will create the opportunity for you to also share your concerns. It is a step towards re-building trust. Asking for collaboration is a demonstration of your desire to put the situation behind you and to move forward together.

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