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In a fraught world with conflict about just about everything, the ability to manage that conflict is king. Conflict management is a critical skill in being able to communicate and understand. When it comes to being a thought leader, your ability to deal with internal and external conflict will be your most excellent skill.
But what are conflict management skills, and how do you develop them? Can you learn them, or is it an innate skill? A saying asks, “can’t we all just get along?” yet would the world be better if we just all got along? Or is conflict a very natural part of our social structure? Conflict is what gives us the ability to learn from each other and grow. Therefore, your conflict management skills are what is going to make you a great leader. Likewise, it will make you the best thought leader you can be.
What is Conflict Management?
Conflict management or conflict resolution is how two sides of an agreement come to a favorable outcome for both parties. This is known as a ‘Win-Win” outcome. However, “Lose-Lose” and “Win-Lose” outcomes are more frequent than the desired win-win outcome. In most cases, we get introduced to conflict management in our workplace or family environment. But the family situation is more emotional than the business context.
Many conflict resolution studies have been conducted over the years, all delivering their brand of processes and skillsets. The result of all the tasks is a framework for effective conflict management applied to most situations and environments. These skills combine the study results into a functional, simplistic process to deal with the conflict you experience.
The fact that you are experiencing conflict in your life means pushing your peers to question the status quo. The act of questioning clarifies that your peers are committed to your cause and want to improve the context or situation. They also believe that the issues raised will be dealt with in a fair and equal manner. This is where your conflict resolution process starts, having a conflict. No resistance either means that there is buy-in or no belief that any dispute or disagreement will be handled correctly.
If you can deal with the conflict correctly, you will not only get to a “better way,” but you will also increase the learning curve in your group. We learn through our conflicts more about ourselves and others than any other process or situation.
Dealing with conflict in the workplace or elsewhere requires you to take an elevated point of view. This means that you must spot the competition and react to it in a specific way. These approaches or styles will let you deal with the conflict on your terms. Thus, giving you the upper hand and possibly the better solution at the end of the day.
When you are faced with a minor issue, you might want to accommodate the other party. This conflict resolution style is often used in environments where the conflict is detracting from the core focus. These more minor conflicts can easily be blown out of proportion, so “letting it slide” will help de-escalate the issue. So, giving you the ability to gain trust from your peers and further the core focus. Be careful, though, not to be too accommodating; this could lead to a weakening of your leadership status.
Avoiding the conflict or the concerned parties can be used in two distinct ways. Firstly, by preventing war or the people, the competition might dissipate on its own. You might separate the parties, which lets them cool down before you address the issues at hand. Secondly, you also give yourself the time to assess the issues raised and decide where you stand on the conflict.
If these strategies do not work, you would have to wade in on the issue and take a stand. This situation brings the most critical aspect of avoiding conflict to the stage. Avoidance cannot be the only strategy you use, it is not a resolution strategy but one to use when you are time-constrained for results. Using a calm perspective also allows for better solutions that might resolve the issue without your intervention.
Reaching a compromise is often seen as a lose-lose because both parties must give up something to resolve. Yet this is a very effective strategy in resolving most conflicts. Often, we are pressed for time, or there is no room for complicated resolution processes. By using a compromise, you are creating a bridge over the divide to reach the ultimate goal. Your center can also be revisited to deal with the issue more precisely.
However, it would be best to be mindful of any resentment that might occur because of your compromising attitude. Too much compromise might spark others to try to gain back some ground after the fact. So be delicate in your center; always try to reach a settlement where parties openly agree on the equality of sacrifice.
Standing your ground and not backing down could also resolve the conflict. This style of conflict resolution is uncompromising and can lead to rapid solutions. Yet, it can also lead to uncooperative interaction from your stakeholders. As thought leaders, we are committed to our cause. It’s easy for us to stand firm and not be swayed by others’ opinions, as this is often our default state.
But dealing with conflict in this manner might not always have the desired effect. Apply this style only if you have the moral high ground or the match will detract from the timed issue. If there is a tough decision to be made, stand up and make it so your process can continue to the end goal.
By far the best style of approaching any conflict. Yet, it is also the most time-consuming. The process involves considering each side’s arguments and finding the perfect WIN-WIN solution to the issue. This is not always easy, but compromise delivers longer-lasting resolutions and creates a working relationship between the parties. Use settlement when you are reliant on the other party’s input in future projects or want to build a lasting relationship with them.
By sitting down and evaluating each side’s points of view, you will understand all the aspects of the conflict. This makes the possibility of future ventures much more likely as you have already established a foundation for conflict management.
Conflict Management Skills
Understanding the styles of conflict management will not always be enough. To apply these styles, you need a strong foundation in another set of skills that will further your cause far more than just a style of approach. These skills should already be present in your repertoire. With these skills finely tuned, you can apply the techniques more effectively.
Communication – clear communication is the core of resolving a conflict within any environment. Conflicting parties often get lost in the argument because they can’t communicate their point of view correctly. This leads to more competition and frustration.
Emotional Intelligence – deeper understanding can only be reached through having the EQ to stay grounded in your perspective. A conflict is not a rejection but a question about how we could make this process better by integrating our different understandings.
Empathy – the saying “take a walk in my shoes” is what the heart is all about. If you can place yourself in the other party’s environment and see the issue from their perspective, you will be better equipped to reach a favourable solution.
Problem-Solving – understood from dealing with conflict, solving the problem is critical thinking and solution-focused processes.
As mentioned, conflict management is about understanding and applying the style of approach that delivers the best result for your cause. This means that the problem at hand should never stump you. Taking a step back from the issue will most certainly get you to the best solution at the end of the day.
Black Sheep Community
Our community is based on conflict and going up against the status quo. Being able to deal with this is crucial to being more of ourselves and ultimately achieving our goal. So, the only way to get better at conflict management is by practicing these skills and styles in your everyday life, whether it be workplace or family, to become the thought leader you aim to become.
These skills are not just critical in our desire to change the world that we want to see but in everyday life. If you want to share your cause with like-minded people or are seeking a place to raise your concerns, join the Black Sheep Community. We all work together to build a place where we can share and deal with our conflicts in the most productive manner possible.