Manage conflict 1-2-3

Managing conflict

Had an opportunity to do some coaching today. Now it is not my natural/ day job, but I quite enjoyed the experience. The topic du jour was as per this blog title.

Later I saw a vlog (http://blogs.bnet.com/intercom/?p=434) on office politics, which referred to the fact that managers spend 42% of their time on this activity (managing conflict) – but no reference to how to actually do it. So here goes the d price methodology:

The pre-requisites are:

1. Is it my conflict to solve?

If you are fighting someone else’s battle, you are bound to lose it. Don’t go into bat for someone else in the office. You may think you are helping, but you are trespassing.

2. Take a positive view of the conflict. Don’t see it as a negative/battle, see it as an opportunity to clear the air and to rectify misconceptions or clarify an issue. You may well be wrong so you might just learn something. It will also help reduce the tension - before you start.

Then stepping into the actual situation:

STEP 1.

Consider the context. (The pre-requisites are arguably part of this step?) But the priority is to assess the situation. Is it worth fighting over? Who am I fighting? What is the time of the day? (Are we going to run out of time when we reach a crucial point?) Who else is present? Who has the power position in the room?

STEP 2.

The actual discussion. The key thing is here to use “I” a lot. It may be counter-intuitive, but always be clear that you are speaking on behalf of yourself, it is your opinion and your feelings. Instead of: You don’t understand, it should be “I think you misunderstand me”. You get the picture I think… (Or should that be I think you get the picture...:-)

STEP 3

Clarify the outcome. Write it down if you have to. Don’t settle for “we’ll both be nice to each other in the future”, but aim for “I will greet you by name every morning.” Like all objectives, the outcomes should be S.M.A.R.T. Don't settle for less or else it will just resurface later.

As it easy as 1-2-3. Never fear when Dennis is near…:-)