Difficult Relationships at Work - How to Influence Uncooperative
We rely on and spend more time with our colleagues than with most other people in our lives: yet we frequently experience conflict at work. This is a problem that is beginning to be recognised, but it is still not being dealt with either effectively or sufficiently. Conflict is such a broad term for what can be experienced, ranging from office gossip to outright bullying. In nearly every single office there are always going to be personality clashes at some point, and most of time they will be fairly easily sorted out. However, sometimes they aren't and there is often no other option than to resign. The real problem underlying this situation is that people really don't have skills to deal with these kinds of situations. They frequently accept problem when it is happening and then get really upset afterwards.
The Five Strategies for Dealing with Conflict
This is most frequently used strategy along with accommodation. Here conflict is avoided and when it does appear person using this strategy refuses to engage in situation.
Example: Someone making a sly comment and person it was aimed at simply walking away.
While this obviously is not a good way of dealing with conflict majority of time as it tends not to help, it is worth being considered as a strategy for when conflict is just not worth effort of being addressed.
Here you take conflict and submit.
Example: Listening to unhelpful criticism and believing it.
Again, very frequently used especially where there is low confidence and self-esteem. This is another not very successful method of dealing with conflict, but it will do if you know that there is a solution coming soon.
This one means that you play person at his or her own game and work hard to get your own way in conflict.
Example: Someone starts spreading rumours about you, so you do same in return in an attempt to discredit power of other person's word.
This can be very useful when conflict is mild and you are passionate about your stance, but can lead to a vicious circle as conflict escalates. Be very sure you want to use this strategy as lowering yourself to someone else's level rarely shows you in best light.
A much more useful tactic to use: here you don't give in to conflict, but work out a solution somewhere between two sides.
Example: Someone delegates a huge amount of work to your already over-filled plate, you respond by taking on some of it, and then recommending that this person parcel out rest to other people.
This is strategy of choice for most untrained managers as this is how we frequently deal with children in real life - and so it is a behaviour we all know about. This can of course lead to obvious downfall of actual solution leaving none of sides happy. This is best to use when goal is to get past issue and move on - with issue having relatively little significance.
The most useful tactic, particularly with extremes of conflict such as bullying. The aim here is to focus on working together to arrive at a solution, where both sides have ownership of and commitment to solution.
Example 1: You and someone else are at completely opposed viewpoints over a project. You sit down with them and work out why they believe in their point of view, and explain your own. Clever and lateral thinking can provide a solution, which answers both sides, but is not a compromise.
Example 2: Someone is bullying you at work. You talk to this person using strategies below and collaborate on modifying their behaviour.
Use this strategy when goal is to meet as many of current needs as is possible. The most difficult strategy if confidence is low as it involves actually naming issue to conflict-creator, which can cause huge anxiety and fear.