7 Tips for Managing Conflict Proactively

Conflict is inevitable in organizations. But when managed proactively, it can lead to transformative change and growth. Consider these 7 helpful tips:

1 Analyze Your Conflict Style.

Ask people you trust for feedback about how you handle conflict. Try to address conflict directly and constructively. Seek to understand any resistance you or others may have in dealing with conflict situations.

2 Consider Needs – Not Solutions.

Although people may disagree about the right solution, their agreement on the need for one helps the focus shift to creative problem-solving and seeking consensus. Guard against the tendency to override consensus-building for the “right” answer; this may only bury conflict temporarily.

3 Seek to Understand Others First.

Truly strive to comprehend others’ points of view before explaining yours. Summarize what you hear until others agree that you understand their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives.

4 Use Dialogue and Discussion Appropriately.

One logically follows the other: A dialogue is an opportunity to leverage divergent thinking – to explore, ask questions, understand, and discover – without deciding or excluding options. Then a discussion involves convergent thinking: reaching a solution through negotiations, analysis and consideration of trade-offs.

5 Depersonalize the Conflict.

View conflict as a disagreement about goals, ideas, or methods, instead of about personality or style, because these are much more difficult to resolve. Strive for a common goal on which everyone can focus and agree to work through areas of disagreement.

6 Help Others Voice Opinions Constructively.

Encourage others to share their opinions in a constructive, non-intimidating manner. Summarize what you hear and facilitate discussions until all ideas and feelings are understood.

7 Start on Common Ground.

Build on areas of agreement before addressing areas of difference. Start by clearly stating your desire to find a solution that is workable for everyone involved. Be sure to solicit creative alternatives.