Ever noticed how easily we attach ourselves to a certain point of view, believing it to be “right?” It’s human nature. Yet, differing points of view can create the potential for conflict in life and at work.
In the workplace, the voracity with which an individual expresses a point of view often determines the severity of the conflict. Conflicts at work can offer an opportunity to take communication to the next level, but they can also be disruptive, non-productive, and even undermine the success of individuals and the companies for whom they work. Therefore, resolving conflicts as they arise should always be a high priority.
Regardless of the type of conflict, there are only four possible resolutions:
1) You get your way.
2) Your opponent gets their way.
3) You both agree on a compromise position.
4) You both agree to disagree.
Any of these resolutions can be effective as long as the outcome is acceptable to both parties. In healthy conflict resolution, one party may find greater benefit in accepting another opinion as valid as in holding fast to their own point of view. At other times, a mutual decision to maintain differing opinions, agreeing to disagree, can be an effective and respectful way to resolve a conflict. Compromise often results in the best outcome for all, but also requires the highest level of communication and, often, negotiation skills. The ability to negotiate successfully is crucial for survival in today’s changing business environment.
I offer the following tips for effective negotiation:
1) Understand that everything is negotiable. Be willing to question or challenge a position with which you do not agree.
2) Be assertive, but not aggressive. Be willing to clearly and confidently share your ideas and ask for what you want, in a way that feels respectful of all parties. Assertiveness is welcome in the workplace, but aggressiveness is not.
3) Actively listen and respectfully respond. Listen and really do your best to hear the ideas and opinions of others. Ask questions to clarify before stating your own position.
4) Be prepared to communicate your position Anticipate the questions that will be asked of you and be ready to present facts, figures, and insights with as much detail as possible. Remember to be assertive, but not aggressive.
5) Focus on the how your idea or point of view can benefit the whole. People will be more likely to shift their own thinking when they see the benefits for themselves or the greater whole. When negotiating, it is imperative to clearly communicate the benefits of your idea to those in positions to influence decision-making.
6) Be patient, don’t rush the process. Allow time for your opponent to suggest a course of action. Use questions to guide the process, such as: “What do you think?”;”Where should we go from here?”;“How might we resolve this in a cooperative way?”
7) Remember it’s okay not to accept the first offer. Keep lines of communication open and continue to listen for opportunities to compromise.
8) Give and take. When you give up something, ask for something in return. Negotiating means coming to a place where each party feels they have gained something.
9) Be willing to walk away. If the issue is not resolved, sometimes the best course of action is for both parties to take a break from discussions. Be sure to set a date and time to resume the negotiation.
10) Leave emotions at the door. Professionalism is imperative when entering into any business communication or negotiation. If you are not able to remain calm and conduct yourself with the highest degree of professionalism, walk away from the negotiation until you can.
I challenge you to make it your mission to resolve professional conflicts in a timely and effective way. Doing so will positively affect your confidence as well as your professional credibility. If you are facing a specific kind of workplace problem that feels overwhelming, it may be time to consult a professional. If workplace conflict is impacting your ability to be successful, I invite you to contact me for a consultation to discuss how coaching may help.
Your success is my business,