Navigating conflict at work

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How do you respond when conflict arises?

When everything is kicking off in the office. When you feel like you are in the firing line.  How do you respond? Do you put your head in the sand and hope it will go away? Or do you get caught up in the drama? Like a knight in shining armour, ready to save the day.

Silence can be golden

Sometimes going underground is the best strategy! As long as keeping our head down is not a tactic to avoid responsibility. It is certainly preferable to getting caught up in the momentum. Dragging others in unnecessarily. And making rash decisions that cloud the issue.

Take a ‘time out’

Time pressures in business often create a sense of urgency. They can spur us into immediate action. Yet taking time out is invaluable. Stepping back to observe creates space. Space gives us the opportunity to consider different perspectives. It enables measured response rather than emotive reaction.


Investigate what’s really going on

Asking ourselves three questions can make all the difference to the outcome of any challenging situation:

What’s really important about this?

  • If it’s an email exchange that’s getting intense, the best thing you can do is stop! Do nothing. Take 5 minutes, take half an hour if you need to and go do something completely different. And when you come back ‘read’ the email. I mean really read it. Don’t scan read. Read each word. Digital communication is so easily misinterpreted. Without the presence of the other, we interpret through our own filters and emotions.  Get the facts. And then ask yourself. What might be the most important thing to focus on right now?

What’s important to them?

  • Take a moment to think about who is involved and what their reasons are. How would they describe the situation? What would they say about your perspective? Appreciating others will help to reveal the core issue in any conflict. Then think about the assumptions that YOU might have made about THEM. How could these be limiting the way YOU are dealing with this? 

What’s important to me?

  • Finally, consider what's important for you. Why is it important? Use your emotions. They are your inner guidance system. Close your eyes. Sense how you are feeling. Are you angry? Are you anxious? Are you frustrated?  Connect with that emotion and explore what’s underneath. Anger is a common response to fear. If you are angry, what might you be afraid of? How might this be influencing the situation?

Why not try: Think of a conflict that you have experienced recently and apply the three questions. What are your thoughts about the situation now? Have they changed?

You might like: The little book of Conflict Transformation by Paul Lederach


Source: /blog-posts/navigating-conflict