Addressing conflict should be a team dynamic. There is certainly an art to this team approach, and you’ll want to take time to practice before engaging. A few rules of engagement will help lay the groundwork for resolution:
Rules of Engagement
- When addressing the person with whom you’re experiencing conflict, don’t make a personal attack on the individual. Avoid the use of “you.” Try your best to speak neutrally and generically- this will give the person space to engage.
- Outline the topic beforehand using the FBI model – Feedback, Behavior, Impact.
- Think of concrete examples beforehand and share them with the person. This will help form a clearer picture of the matter.
- Don’t assume the person meant any ill intent–they may be unaware of their impact on you. Ask lots of questions, but from a neutral posture, staying conscious of your tone to avoid slipping into a defensive or emotional one (sometimes easier said than done!)
- Remember: don’t try to persuade. You will benefit the most when you spend the most time just listening.
- Be prepared to eat humble pie, if needed. You may even find yourself needing to apologize for some unforeseen impact you’ve caused.
- Spend some time unpacking the conversation later on your own- what went well? What could have gone better? What would you change or do the same next time with a different person? Give yourself some grace- conflict isn’t easy, but we can always grow by examining our efforts to address it.
In the workplace, inevitably, there will come a time of conflict or misunderstanding. There are no perfect workplaces nor perfect people. When conflict arises, spend time trying to understand the “why” of the matter. Nothing is ever as it seems: As a mentor once told me, “we all need grace served to and for you.” Emotions, health issues, and other life circumstances may be at play. It’s usually not a personal attack on you. Always take time to assess what happened and what led to the event- gather lots of questions.
Next, take cautious, thoughtful actions to bridge the gap. Work to address what can be done to make everyone in the situation whole. If it’s your supervisor exhibiting behaviors that are not conducive to the workplace, remember, if their senior management allows the conduct, then your higher ups may have accepted it. “You cannot change the person, only how you react.” Doing nothing may be an option, at least in this one instance.
If you feel actions are warranted, be very careful and intentional. Think: What does careful and intentional behavior look like, in this instance? Have a clear idea of an outcome in mind, but be flexible and willing to incorporate the other person’s expressed needs. Stay tuned into your delivery- is emotion impacting your tone?
I once felt very frustrated with my manager always bringing the team together without me. At first, my frustrations were displayed in the open. Later, I took a moment to step back and ask pointed questions: ‘Is there something I am not giving that causes you to go to my team members instead of me?’ My manager explained there were time sensitive questions being asked from her management when I was not there. Her explanation helped me understand her process, so I could focus better on my own.
- Remember: Feedback is a gift. Listen first and more often– we have two ears but only one mouth for a reason!
- Examine the part you play in the situation.
- Look for strategies you may employ to make the situation better for all parties going forward.
- Search for a win-win to bridge conflict and build stronger relationships
If you need help getting on track, contact your Tech Career Coach for advice. Let’s soar to the next level!
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