How to resolve conflict and win battles without fighting
BY the time you read this column, after weeks and weeks of emotional debates, dramatic posters and billboards, and heated conversations, the big vote will be over. Although I am proudly an Irish resident, I still only have American citizenship, and as such I was unable to vote in the referendum. I was, however, recently invited to take part in a TV3 panel on the issue.
I offered my broader historic perspective of what has transpired in my home country since the US Supreme Court decided Roe v Wade. Needless to say, the discussion was impassioned on all sides.
Margaret Heffernan (the American businesswoman, not the doyenne of Dunnes Stores) is quoted as saying: “For true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument and debate.”
In business interactions, as with other types, we must learn to deal with one another after a vehement time of conflict or debate.
When conflict arises in the workplace — as it invariably will — many organisations are not prepared to handle it.
Many chief executives work hard to create a culture that eliminates conflict or one which rapidly stamps out ripples of discontent.
But, rather than trying to avoid it in the first place, understanding that — as Heffernan stated — conflict can become a fuel to spur positive growth, change or evolution, can lead an organisation to embrace it, rather than discourage it.
In fact, research from the University of Nebraska suggests that allowing conflict to surface and encouraging a “devil’s advocacy approach” to decision-making often produces better outcomes and reduces groupthink.
Conflicts are bound to happen. So managers who focus on promoting mindfulness and respectful communications can help teams work effectively through disagreements.
If a clash comes crashing into your company, it will take time to work through it, but, never fear, I have some suggestions to help guide your way. SELF-AWARE: is to take a workshop specifically on the very issue. Understanding how alternatively looking at the traditional concept of conflict can be very beneficial in reframing attitudes. Again, that University of Nebraska report argues that task conflict stimulates creativity and enhances team effectiveness. How’s that for a different view?
PROPER DIALOGUE TECHNIQUES: