Kindness During Conflict
A major source of unhappiness and reduction in productivity at the office is conflicts between coworkers. There are a myriad of reasons that people on the job don’t like one another. Here are just a few that create division among employees:
- A perceived slight
- Differences of opinion
- Resistance to change
- Angry people
- Cultural diversity prejudices
- Unclear organizational direction
Whatever the reason, when people don’t like or trust one another it’s hard to work together as a team.
There are a number of ways that folks react when divisions between coworkers begin. With April designated as Workplace Conflict Awareness Month, let’s look at the ways you can either address the conflict with positivity or not.
People react to conflict in one of five ways:
Avoidance is totally appropriate for incidents that are insignificant. Many times people consider small things to have more importance than they really do. Decide whether you have all the information to even come to a conclusion. Think about whether it’s important enough of an issue to even create a conflict to begin with.
People who want to compete when a difference of opinion about decisions or strategies arise, is not being cooperative. This creates a situation where some folks don’t want to give honest and complete feedback because of the competitive nature of the discussion.
On occasions when you decide to accommodate others let their concerns take precedence over your it’s usually because you’re trying to make everyone happy. Or we have decided to let others have it their way so that they can see our way was the right one all along.
People who are willing to compromise look to find things that they can agree on to look for a fair solution, if possible, This can mean all parties get a little of what they want, but also give up some things.
This is the most difficult characteristic for people who don’t trust the people they are in conflict with, whether at the workplace or in their personal life. People who collaborate as a strategy to resolve conflict look for ways to integrate the differing positions into one cohesive solution. This often takes more time than the other positions, but if it can be accomplished it’s often the smartest option.
I think you need to look at the perspective when making a decision about what avenue to pursue when there is the potential for conflict at the job. Consider how closely you have to work with the person. If they are not an integral member of your team, maybe it’s best to let things go and reduce interactions face to face in the future. Try to figure out how to insert kindness in your approach to conflict. Maybe approaching colleagues with creative ideas for compromise or collaboration would change the tone and progress of negotiations.
I know it’s not possible all the time. I have definitely grown and evolved in my approach to workplace conflict. I used to be more competitive and confrontational. These days, I am much more likely to avoid small things and try to compromise on more important ones. What’s your approach?