The key reasons organizations, families, groups and institutions as well as countries fall out; is the disability to effectively manage conflict. In short, they all need to be sent to a good conflict management program!
Jokes apart, you’ll always notice that where there are humans there’s conflict. In fact where there is life there is conflict. Animals have conflicts too! Why? Because it’s how nature has built us and the world in which we live.
In fact in the animal kingdom, plant kingdom and mineral kingdom; you will see conflict at every level. It’s there between a mountain and river, fire and water from the minutest molecule to even sub-atomic levels. Conflict is a part of the basic survival instinct of every element of this massive system.
Coming back to humans. Though conflict is ingrained in our very basic core, it’s still something that we can manage effectively. It doesn’t have to end in a lose- win situation and nor do we have to try to destroy the other person like we land up doing so often! Or at least think of doing!
Gone are the days when we needed our basic conflict instinct to help us to survive. That was needed during our cavemen days to fight animals and life has moved on quite a bit since then!
Nowadays its conflicts within and between individuals, families, departments, functions and organizations. Seriously there are no lions or tigers there that we need to fight although I’m sure you think otherwise!
To manage these conflicts, many people attend conflict management programs. However, some of these programs fail to create a long lasting impact and we fall back to our old patterns.
Many conflict management programs miss one of the below mentioned pillars of conflict management and hence result into poor application and outcomes.
So what are these 4 pillars are that can make a conflict management program successful?
- Awareness – that one is getting into conflict
- Realization – that no thought is right or wrong
- Intent – to resolve it win-win
- Actions – for the right outcomes post discussions
A conflict management program that includes these 4 premises can easily help and build a powerful and effective workplace.
Let’s see how it can make workplace competent and efficient.
Step 1 – The Awareness:
This is the most important step to managing conflicts. Without self-awareness, we tend to get carried away by the conflict. The insight that this discussion is going into conflict then becomes impossible, unless the opposite person shows us the mirror!
We have all seen ‘road-rage’ conflicts, rights? They happen because people loose awareness of what they are doing when they get into the conflict mode.
Self awareness actually calms you down and stops you from reacting as well as forces you to look at your actions before pointing at others.
Every conflict management program needs to have this aspect built in at an experiential level. They need to help you get aware of a conflict before getting into it.
Step 2 – The Realization:
Most of us operate from the thought that what we are saying about any situation is the best way and all other ways are incorrect. We see in black and white.
The reality is that every individual can have a different view point and none of them are right or wrong. Life thrives in grey and these are just different lenses from which different people operate differently!
Once you realize this absolute truth, you stop trying to prove yourself right all the time and the opposite person wrong. And the conflict dies its own death!
Step 3 – The Intent:
No conflict can be resolved unless the party in conflict wants to resolve it. If the intent to resolve the conflict is not there, it may temporarily fuse out but will reoccur again.
Very often conflicts get escalated because at the spoken level they look ‘win-win,’ however at the unspoken or psychological level they are actually win-lose.
Step 4 – The Action and Reflection:
All conflicts need action to follow the win-win discussion. A discussion without action really doesn’t hold much value!
Many times conflicts get resolved at a verbal and intent levels, however no outcomes take place out of the concluding discussions and agreements due to lack of action.
Also, post taking action one needs to reflect to do the necessary course correction. Unless reflection happens, course correction cannot happen. Which takes us back to step 1, awareness. Awareness of what’s going well and what needs to be changed.
Is your conflict management program covering these steps and taking your learning to action?