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  • Mike Orsini

8 Key Qualities for Conflict Management

Conflict management. Such an important concept not only personally but also professionally and in business. How we choose to manage it will greatly improve or hinder our growth, relationships, and success, whether it's personal conflict or professional and business related.

What's required to manage conflict? Here are some points that I think are key:

1. An open mind. Everyone is their own individual and has their own perspectives. In life and in the workplace people's various perspectives can clash with one another so our awareness of this fact and being open to other's opinions and views is important.

2. A certain level of maturity. The other characteristics and qualities described here point to someone who manages conflict well and those who possess them signify someone with a certain level of maturity.

3. A broad view of the situation. What are the impacts, consequences, and effects of the conflict and whether or not is resolved. Does someone else's needs or a project's needs need to be put above the conflict in order to stay on task. Said another way, if there are multiple people working on a business project for a client and two people are in conflict with one another, unresolved conflict can negatively impact the team's ability to produce the best result for the client.

4. Reflecting and responding vs. reacting. Reacting can really get you into trouble and the effects of your reaction may be short-lived or cause permanent damage. Reflection, along with #5 are so important to making sure that we respond to rather than react to the situation in a mature way.

5. Patience. Our patience is sure to be tested in situations of conflict. Stay patient and this is help us reflect and respond instead of reacting (#4).

6. Keep our emotions in check. #4 and #5 are essential for being able to accomplish this. Recognition of the way we're accustomed to responding to or reacting to a situation is important. It takes practice to be able to manage our emotions, as well as, conflict. We can't expect things to drastically change over night but we need to remain reflective and patient.

7. Anticipate. Anticipating issues that may arise can be good especially for helping us remain reflective (#4), patient (#5), and keeping our emotions in check (#6). In fact anticipating conflict or issues is a true testament of a good leader as they are able to be proactive in their lives and their businesses and will better able to respond to situations of conflict or even addressing them before they even arise.

8. Clear Communicator. You can have everything else but if you can't clearly and effectively communicate you thoughts or feelings then they're not going to help. Communication is absolutely necessary to not just express yourself but to work towards a resolution.

I think one of the only exceptions that would make 'avoiding it' or 'giving up on it' ('it' being the relationship that is in conflict) a good idea can be summed up with three questions: Are they on your team? Do you want them on your team? Do you need them on your team? If they are on your team and it's going to stay that way then you'd better reach some common ground where you don't necessarily have to love the other person but you have to respect them enough that you can handle being in the room with them. This kind of situation requires empathy: meaning that you're going to have to put yourself in their shoes and see things from their perspective. If you don't want them, but more importantly, don't need them on your team then take some time to reflect on the situation and then move forward from it.

Another thing, you can have all of these qualities and characteristics mentioned above but if the person you're having conflict with is the exact opposite of all of these (ie. stubborn, immature, close-minded, impatient, reactive, short-sighted, etc,) then it may be very difficult to engage them in any kind of productive conversation in order so that you both learn something from the situation and move forward. If you're the person trying to resolve the conflict and possess many or all of the qualities mentioned above then this can be a great source of frustration because you want the other person to be more like you so that the conflict can be resolved. There are certain times where you just have to let things go. There will be certain people that we really want to learn something from the situation. However, we have to remember that we cannot force another person to learn something and the harder we push the more frustrated we'll become. The exception would be a supervisor to employee relationship. The supervisor might have to put in some more work with their employee to build that relationship and 'get through' to their employee. However...

Relationship building and conflict management should NOT begin when conflict begins. It should begin with being introduced to one another. It will be a lot more difficult to manage and resolve conflict with a weaker relationship. The most proactive approach to conflict management is establishing relationships and building those relationships. Therefore, conflict management is really about relationship management.

As always, we are here to Strive To Optimize!

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