7 Tips For Finding Opportunity In Conflict

[To comment: larry at larry litwin dot com]

This week’s blog comes from:

Dale Carnegie Training Newsletter

By Anita Zinsmeister, President — anita.zinsmeister@dalecarnegie.com
Dale Carnegie® Training of Central & Southern New Jersey 

When someone creates a conflict at work, don’t always think of it as a problem.  Sometimes conflict leads to good outcomes, such as an improved process or greater efficiency.  Keeping this in mind can help you to look at conflict in a better light.

People are occasionally not on the same page at an organization so when conflicts breaks out, consider this an opportunity to take a more creative approach.  To help you and your team make this happen, we have listed seven tips below.
7 Tips For Finding Opportunity In Conflict
1.  Attack The Problem, Not The PeopleThe problem needs fixing, not the people.   Yes, it’s possible your team will need new skills, knowledge or information to effectively implement your solution.   But always remember that as a manager, you must keep your focus on the issue.  Attacking your staff will help no one.
2.  Don’t Go It Alone Even when you are an expert in the relevant area, it can be very helpful to involve your coworkers in the process.  Sometimes you just need another pair of eyes on the problem in order to come up with a solution.
3.  Don’t Settle Look for a fresh approach, a new angle or a unique perspective.  Do not settle for the way it has always been done.  If the traditional solution was good enough, the problem should have gone away.

4.  Give Yourself Some Time Off – When you are stuck, get away from the problem, take a walk, forget about it and come back later.  A fresh mind is always preferable to a tired, frustrated mind.  In fact, a break may be all you need.

5.  Involve A Third PartyEven if you follow Tip #2, consider going a step further; get someone who is not involved to offer his or her input.   Ask a friend in another department or even a customer to help you clearly define and assess the problem.

6.  Listen To Your Gut – Intuition is perfectly acceptable in problem-solving given you: (1) clearly understand the problem and the potential cause, (2) have been in a similar situation before and (3) possess data, information and research that support your intuitive solution.  If the above three criteria are met, then go with your intuition. 

7.  Sometimes Not Making A Decision Is Actually A Decision – Though it may be difficult to swallow, sometimes the best solution is to do nothing.   As managers, we are prone to want to do something, to take action.   Realize that, on occasion, taking action will only cause more problems.  In those cases, it’s best to wait.
Executive Summary: Conflict can be difficult and messy to deal with, particularly in the workplace.  The thought of ignoring it can be tempting.  However, by dealing with conflict head-on, the parties involved can open up opportunities for growth.  So don’t give in to the temptation to avoid conflict.  Instead, follow these tips and watch your workplace — and your staff — thrive. 

[To comment: larry at larry litwin dot com]