Friday, November 16, 2007

30 Tips to Conflict resolution at work and home

When do conflicts arise? It mostly arises following a difference of opinion--when two people have two different ways of looking at issues. There is a basic lack of communication between them. Lack of essential life skills add to their respective misery. Prevention is better than cure in conflict management. Conflict is a negative drain on energy, and productivity is ultimately compromised.

Let me give you an example: Anju and Shubham were colleagues, though in different groups of the same organization. Both were equally qualified, good at their work, but had an unspoken ‘competition’ in their workplace. There were occasions when Anju had felt bitter about Shubham’s cut-throat approach--so much so, that Anju went on high alert the moment she got a call from Shubham in order to discuss an important issue.

Nevertheless, both met and Shubham requested her help to make a presentation, similar to the one she had presented and which was highly appreciated. However, Anju, aware of the previous experience with Shubham and the general lack of goodwill between the two, put off Shubham on some pretext or the other whenever he enquired.

One morning, she got a phone call from her boss--‘Shubham’s presentation is on Saturday. I HAD SENT HIM TO YOU FOR HELP. You haven’t helped him yet.’
Anju was shocked! Shubham had been clever enough to withhold important information from her--that the boss was in the picture!

Besides, she was so engrossed and preoccupied with her own world of conflict with Shubham, she did not notice anything else. And, thanks to the conflict, she was about to get a firing from her boss!

What could Anju have done to avoid an unforeseen consequence as this????

Some pointers to avoiding conflict and management of conflict are as follows:-

1. Choose your battles wisely
2. Do not mix up issues--every issue is separate and a lot of your own well-being can be hinging on it
3. Confrontation should be avoided as far as possible
4. COLLABORATION should be encouraged in self and others
5. Empathy for the other, irrespective of past experiences should be cultivated
6. Communication skills should be developed
7. In order to resolve conflict that already exists, first resolve the conflict within your own self
8. Check if what you are fighting for is a want or a need
9. Life is a give and take
10. There are no permanent enemies or permanent friends
11. When in conflict, think with a cool head
12. Decipher what you are actually fighting for
13. Believe in yourself
14. Do not encourage childish behaviour in self
15. Be smart. Going a little distance today for someone may in fact work in your favour tomorrow
16. Keep yourself informed about going-ons around you (this does not mean gossip!)
17. In collaborative conflict resolution, focus only on the issue on hand
18. Do not make personal attacks
19. Working together with different kinds of people means handling them effectively, not ‘conquering’ them
20. For total personal effectiveness, be reasonable with the opposite person
21. Do not give room for him/her to pin you down. If you have a clear slate in dealing, in the end you will be the winner
22. Assertiveness is also valuable. When confronting, be assertive and firm (not rude). Be calm, in control of your own emotions and speak with respect and decorum

Anju and Shubham resolved their conflict by first determining what each wanted from their work graphs. They discovered that pulling the other down was neither possible nor their real goal.

Hence, collaborative effort was chosen wherein past experiences were forgotten and a new start was made in their professional relationship, as they had no areas that really clashed. They acknowledged that they had to grow individually, and not undercut each other!

When it comes to home and family, one has to be a little more careful as we have a lifelong association with relatives and we cannot wish them away.

Here, one has to be clear about maximum gain and minimum loss. Working for WIN-WIN situations is highly recommended. Gaining a point today may in fact sour things to a larger extent later.

Satish and Mita had been married ten years. His younger brother Rajesh married Padma two years back. From day one, there seemed to be a rivalry between Mita and Padma, starting with their looks, to their careers, prowess in the kitchen, to their relationships with the in-law.

Having got caught up in endless competitive tussles of ‘winning’ they would invariably make themselves and the whole family miserable.

A counsellor helped them understand that each is unique--each with her strengths and weaknesses. Working to create harmony would entail acknowledging the strengths of the other and working towards a win-win situation each time there seemed to be a pending tussle.

A black butterfly looks pretty on a white wall…
A white butterfly looks beautiful on a dark coloured wall…!

Here is how conflict can be avoided:-

23. Respect people’s individuality
24. Be empathetic to their feelings
25. Treat others the way you would like to be treated
26. Learn anger management
27. Develop a sense of humour
28. Learn to laugh at yourself at times
29. Everyone makes mistakes--no one has a boon of being infallible
30. Be clear about what you want from life--this includes your personal and professional areas

So do you have a conflict???

No comments: