As a leader, you can’t afford to shy away from situations involving conflict. Conflict is a natural part of life and will occur in both your professional and personal lives. If managed well, you can use it to promote your ideas and put your concepts in to practice. In fact, changes cannot happen without it. Conflict also helps us to grow and pushes our limits – often driving us to complete tasks we never thought possible.
Some personalities seem to thrive on conflict but others fear it and the damage it can do in an organisation. However, once you develop the right skills, anyone can overcome their fear of conflict.
There are many reasons you might be afraid of confrontations with others. Childhood experiences are the most common source. Children with divorced parents are known to try to keep the peace by any means necessary. However, it is important to remember that conflict is not inherently bad. Allowing someone to walk over you to ‘keep the peace’ can work as a short-term fix but it won’t hold up in the future.
How to handle confrontations
You will come across confrontations daily. Two people in your team might not get along or a co-worker could disagree with one of your new policies and cause issues. Conflict is a cornerstone of human society, so you must learn to work with it. Keep these pointers in mind when dealing with conflict:
The early bird gets the worm
Don’t let the situation get away from you. Address it as soon as you see it might become a problem. Even if finding a quick solution is difficult, everyone needs to know that the problem has been seen and is being dealt with. This will minimise the possible damage and promote a more open and relaxed environment.
Conflict doesn’t mean fighting
There is no need to become overly emotional or upset during a confrontation. Someone just has a different opinion and all you need to do is find a solution that works for everyone. Compromise is the name of the game.
Sometimes you just need to listen
People are more intuitive than you realise. Often you just need to listen while someone vents their frustrations. A simple (not condescending), ‘I understand how you feel’ can work wonders.
Remember, as a leader, everyone looks to you for guidance and the way that you deal with difficult issues. You are the lighthouse in the storm and need to show everyone how to move forward. If you project confidence and calm, conflicts will be easier and quicker to solve.