Conflict is inevitable. Deal with it!

Shying away from navigating conflicts will only deepen problems in the long-run, so you’d better be able to handle them competently when they arise. Here are a few key tips on how to approach challenging situations in your workplace.


A while ago I wrote an article about how avoiding conflicts can build careers. One strong characteristic of those who prefer to avoid conflicts is saying yes to the right people. The people who are good at this tend to be slave runners with their subordinates and very agreeable to their bosses. I remember a story about a leadership development program, where I was told several times by trainees that the top leadership of the company is acting in total opposition to the values, they claim they want. I was hired to train the middle managers to be more ambitious, outspoken and authentic. In one of the groups I got into an argument with the most senior person, who was directly managing most of the people present. He said that the senior leadership in the HQ cares only about their careers and short term goals/financial gain and they are not to be trusted. He said that it was pointless to even try to influence their decisions. But he still wanted the managers who worked for him to be more authentic and assertive with their team members. Was he speaking from experience? Could be. But we are all facing a choice. Are we going to live according to our values and be authentic? Or, we can live the life other people want us to live, and get cynical, burn out and toxic to ourselves and the company we work for. The moral of this story is how a company typically wants to change the middle level leadership’s behavior and does not realize that it should apply to them too. Until they are willing to walk the talk – no one will in the company.

But how can you be more effective in conflict management? Here are few tips from a recent article I read on this.

First of all, be wise enough to pick your battles. You don’t have to weigh in on every conflict that arises especially if you’re not part of it. Trying to be the peacemaker can make things worse. If you do have a role in resolving the conflict, then decide on the right time and approach.

Don’t make assumptions. You can never grasp the big picture immediately. There’s always information missing. Whether you have a disagreement with a colleague or there’s a conflict between your co-workers, always start by asking questions to gather the missing pieces. 

That leads to another important element in efficiently handling challenging situations aka conflicts: investigation. If there is an independent source available to give color to the conflict, always access that before talking to the parties involved. That will also enhance your ability to get not only the whole picture but the subtleties too.

Whoever is involved in the conflict, always talk to the other party, even if you already know whom to side with. If you’re part of the conflict, it is still important to sound out the person who opposes you and give them reassurance that your relationship is not all tension.

And finally, probably the trickiest part is when you decide on your next move. You have to assess if the issue requires all parties to sit down and negotiate, which usually turns out to be the best course of action as it gives everyone the opportunity to be open about their interest and intentions. If that happens, you also have to figure out the best role to play: you are moderating a discussion, mediating a dispute, or ultimately making a decision?

There are lots of intricacies when dealing with conflicts but these very basic steps will help you get the ball rolling and move in the right direction.

If you want to read the original article, click here:

mickey feher