Conflict Reduction is Conflict Resolution
It is estimated that managers spend from 20 to 40% of their time dealing with conflict situations.
How much time do you spend trying to resolve or manage conflict?
More importantly, how much of your valuable energy do you use up dealing with it?
Conflicts occur naturally in relationships, when two people or two different perspectives try to occupy the same place at the same time. Conflict is not necessarily a bad thing. The real issue is what happens as a result of the conflict. Is progress stalled? Are relationships harmed? Or does creativity and innovation result?
Not every conflict can be solved. Nor can you engage in every one that comes along. Managers must decide which conflicts are worth taking up time and energy and which ones should be left alone or dealt with later from an organizational level or policy perspective. Focus on the ones that really matter.
One approach is to eliminate unnecessary or minor conflicts. Determine this by asking yourself and those involved two questions:
- Are these issues worth valuable energy and time?
- Does this issue need to be addressed in this way at this time?
There are five styles of managing conflict, according to the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Model.
To give an example of them, I live on a busy street where cars are parked on both sides of the road, leaving only one lane for traffic. Often two oncoming cars need to use the same space. I must deal with this conflict without having a collision. I could:
- Avoid the situation. Pull over to the side of the road, park the car and walk instead.
- Accommodate the oncoming traffic, yielding the right of way to everyone.
- Compete, hit the gas and play chicken to see if I can go first.
- Compromise and agree mutually how to proceed, taking turns.
- Collaborate by asking for options from the other drivers, choosing the best one for the situation.
This means I have five styles at my disposal to manage the conflict. I have one preferred style and one that I seldom use.
What is your preferred style to manage conflict?
Which one do you avoid using? Why?
In your own conflict situations, you have several options. Would you be more effective if from time to time you chose another one?
What would you do if you were in the other car and you saw me coming?
About Jim Czegledi
Dr. Jim, The People Skills Guy, helps technically skilled people develop their people skills. He is a professional Speaker, Trainer & Coach. For a free special report on the A – Z of People Skills go to www.peopleskillsguy.com