CONFLICT can be described as:

A struggle “I’m doing it my way”

A contest “We’ll see who wins”

Opposition “You don’t understand”

A Clash “I’m right - you’re wrong”

Emotions “I’m mad - Don’t hear facts”

Conflict occurs when we limit ourselves to our own point of view. One challenge that most of us face every day is the challenge to really listen to others. Some of us think we are listening because we hear the words the other person says. However, what one person says and what the other person hears are often two different things. Some of us simply do not take in detailed information; we get the gist of the conversation and we move on. Can you imagine the conflict that occurs when the person talking finds out we can’t complete a task because we failed to “record” the details necessary for the completion of the task. Then there is the situation where the talker does not give us the details we need and gets frustrated with us when we can’t complete the task to their expectations.

Conflict occurs when we don’t understand the motives of the other person. The values that we believe are important and upon which we make our decisions are almost always different than those held by the other person. For example, if you value money and the other person values relationships, can you see how conflict would occur? The reasoning behind our actions will be vastly different.

Conflict occurs when we respond out of habit to situations which require new learned skills. Ask any manager and they will tell you that the one response that they dread hearing the most when giving instructions about how a job is to be completed is: “Well! That’s not the way we’ve been doing it” or “That’s not the way we used to do it.” Conflict can be positive if it provides insights - don’t be hesitant about asking questions; make sure you provide needed details.

Conflict can be positive if it fosters growth - a good manager gets to know their people and works not only to direct them but to develop their potential as well. Conflict can be positive if it builds relationships - caring about the other person’s feelings and concerns is vital in reducing conflict. Listening to others is powerful. Listening involves hearing the words; paying attention to body language; and asking open-ended questions (questions which cannot be answered in a few words); and being patient with others.

However, conflict is negative when it creates explosions, allows disruptive anger, and breaks up relationships. A manager who operates out of a ‘stress’ mode will almost always create explosions. A manager who is blunt and direct in the way they communicate will inevitably be seen as confrontational by most of the people who work with and for them. A manager who is not organized will create negative results and conflict.

You cannot change the other person;

You can only change the way you choose to interact with them.

Pat A. Bishop

People & Solutions, Inc.

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