When you’re faced with a specifific situation, there are five things to do to assess the scenario at hand before taking action—understand your counterpart; identify the type of conflict you’re facing; consider the organizational context; determine your goal; and, finally, pick one of the four options you’ll take to deal with this particular situation.The first time you analyze a conflict using these five steps it will take some time, but eventually the analysis will get easier. The goal is to be able to quickly do these steps in your head whenever a disagreement arises. Find out right the fourth step - Determine Your Goal.
Before you decide which approach to take, determine what you hope to accomplish. Keeping in mind the personalities of the people involved, their communication styles, and the type of conflict you’re having, reflect on your ultimate goal: Do you want to complete the project quickly? To deliver the best results you can? Does your relationship with this person matter more than the outcome of the work? Figure out what you need to get done.
If you’re under pressure to complete a presentation by a certain date and your counterpart in sales is complaining about how much data you need from him, you might consider doing nothing so that you can get the numbers you need and hit your deadline. Later you could explain to the sales guy how his griping impacted you and ask what would work better for him for future requests.
If you’re having more than one type of conflict, you might set more than one goal. For example, if you’re fighting with your conflict-seeking boss about which metrics to report to the senior leadership team (task conflict) and you and your boss have exchanged heated emails that challenge each other’s understanding of web analytics (relationship conflict), your goal may be to come up with a set of stats that you can both live with and to make sure that your boss understands that you respect her and her expertise.
Make sure your goal is reasonable, suggests IMD’s Jean-François Manzoni, who has conducted extensive research on conflict management. Ask yourself: Does what I want make sense? Is it realistic? If not, set your sights a little lower. Come up with a small, manageable goal, such as “agreeing on which of us will own the redesign project” or “creating a six-week plan for how our team will collaborate.” If you’re disagreeing over how to proceed on an important project, your goal might be to end the conversation by simply agreeing on the next step rather than cementing a full implementation plan.
It’s not uncommon, particularly with relationship conflict, to want to set a goal that’s about changing the other person. Perhaps you’d like to show your colleague that her passive-aggressive behavior doesn’t work or make sure your boss knows what a jerk he’s been for the past week. But these kinds of agendas are better dropped before they lead to full-on fights.
“It’s easy to become aggravated by other people’s actions and forget what you were trying to achieve in the first place,” says Jeffrey Pfeffer, of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. But it’s not likely you’re going to change the other person, so focus on your goal. If the conflict were over and you found that you had won, what would that look like?
Stay tuned for step 5 - Pick One Of The Four Options - in the next part from Findjobs!
You might be interested: Step 1: Understand Your Counterpart
You might be interested: Step 2: Consider your approach to conflict
You might be interested: Step 3: Identify the Type of Conflict