Conflict Management: What Should You Do?


If you’ve ever been a part of a large organization, chances are you probably ran into someone that you just don’t get along with.  What would you do in these situations?  Organizational conflict may contribute to increased stress amongst both parties, decreased productivity, and absenteeism.  As a leader, your job is to set the example for others to follow, and how would it look if you just went up to them and told them to go take a hike just because you didn’t like them?  Here are some important things to keep in mind when dealing with conflicts in the organization:

Never make any decisions based on emotion.  Think about the times when you got in a heated argument with someone and said something that you regretted.  As leaders, it is especially crucial for us to not make that mistake because one important part of our job is to build relationships, not burn bridges.  So before you decide to go and confront the person you have conflicts with, always make sure you keep calm so your emotions don’t get in the way.

Understand where the other person is coming from.  In the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Steven R. Covey, one of the habits simply stated “seek first to understand, then to be understood.”  This means that when you feel any kind of conflict or tension with another person, try to put yourself in their shoes for a moment and understand where they are coming from and what might motivate them to act the way they are.

Be honest.  After you’ve listened to the other person’s perspective and understood where they are coming from, be honest and upfront with them when addressing your side of the issue.  Make sure that you communicate to the other person thoroughly why you feel the way you do.  Now that both of you have thoroughly expressed your opinions on the issue at hand, it becomes much easier to come to an agreement.

Build mutual respect.  Depending on the situation, you may or may not come to an agreement with the other person.  Even if you still don’t see eye to eye on certain things, you did your part in addressing the issue in a professional manner.  Regardless of the outcome, the other person is likely to have more respect for you for conducting yourself well as a leader, and you’ll likely have more respect for the other person since you now know where they are coming from.

I’d love to hear more about your thoughts on conflict management.  Feel free to leave a comment below and I’d be more than happy to get back to you.  You can also find me on Twitter.


One thought on “Conflict Management: What Should You Do?

  1. drdebbright

    It’s refreshing to read a blog post that doesn’t add to the confusion between conflicts and confrontations.

    One important insight to add to your post is that poorly handled criticism can lead to conflict.

    Yet, criticism and conflict are not the same and shouldn’t be used interchangeably. When quality criticism is delivered and the receiver interprets what’s said as helpful and corrects the situation, where’s the conflict? So, poorly delivered criticism breeds conflicts in relationships whether at word, or at home.

    What’s implied here is that the delivery of quality criticism is a skill that once learned, needs to be periodically reviewed. While criticism is inescapable, it doesn’t occur regularly, so while it’s a given, givers need to be effective when engaging in a criticism exchange.


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