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1 Today, we re going to talk about conflict resolution. As you know, conflict is a normal part of life. Whether it s at work, at home, with friends or neighbors, disagreements between people happen. When they do, you need to be able to manage and resolve conflicts successfully to achieve the best outcome for you and for those with whom you are in conflict. During this session we re going to show you some basic conflict resolution skills and techniques you can use to manage the conflicts in your workplace more effectively. 1

2 The main objective of this session is to help you manage and resolve conflicts successfully. By the time the session is over, you should be able to: Identify causes of conflict; Recognize the effects of conflict; Communicate effectively to avoid conflict; Resolve conflicts successfully; and Mediate conflicts and manage recurring conflict. 2

3 Before we begin the session, let s take a few minutes to see how much you already know about conflict resolution. Decide whether each statement on the screen is true or false. You have to expect some conflict in life. This is true. All conflicts can be resolved if you have the right attitude and skills. This is also true. Conflict is always bad. This is false; and finally, The best time to resolve a conflict is when you re in a fighting mood. This is false. How did you do? Did you get all the answers right? If not, don t worry. You ll learn all about these issues and a lot more during the session. 3

4 Conflict is a disagreement. It is a dispute with others for example, coworkers, customers, family, or neighbors. It generally involves the clash of ideas, interests, or personalities. The other thing you should know about conflict is that it is inevitable. Whenever and wherever people work or live together, there are going to be occasional disagreements. That s because conflict is a normal part of human life. People have different personalities, points of view, ideas, and needs. Those differences sometimes clash and that leads to conflict. 4

5 Conflict can arise within groups or between individuals. Conflicts can be professional and focus on work issues, or they can be personal. Conflict is not necessarily destructive. It can sometimes actually be productive depending on the way you deal with it. All conflicts can be resolved if you have the right attitude and skills. 5

6 When conflict is well managed, it can have productive outcomes. Well-managed conflict can spark creativity and challenge people to think about what they are doing and how they might make improvements. For example, when co-workers have different points of view about how a job can be performed best, the debate can lead to such improvements as more efficient procedures or a safer workplace. Appropriate conflict can also lead to new ideas for better products and services. Innovation makes us a more successful, competitive organization. In an atmosphere that acknowledges and manages conflict effectively, healthy competition among co-workers and team members can exist without becoming destructive. In fact, it can spur everyone on to greater achievements and improved performance. Diversity can also flourish in such an atmosphere, and employees from different backgrounds can present and promote their ideas. All points of view can be heard and appreciated. And let s not forget that a little constructive conflict about how to provide the best possible service for our customers can lead to improved customer relations and greater customer satisfaction. 6

7 But when conflict is not well managed, it becomes a destructive influence. Poorly managed conflict can lead to: Damaged relationships; Reduced productivity; Lower morale; Customer dissatisfaction; Widespread dissension with one conflict leading to others; and Greater potential for harassment and violence. Think about conflicts in which you ve been involved. Were they constructive or destructive? Can you think of an example of a constructive conflict on the job that was well managed and led to a positive outcome? 7

8 There are numerous potential causes of workplace conflict. Poor communication inevitably leads to misunderstandings, and misunderstandings often lead to conflict. People with dissimilar work styles may come into conflict when they have to work together. Each one thinks that his or her way is the right or best way. As in every other aspect of life, people with different personalities sometimes clash on the job. Different goals can also lead to workplace conflict. Some people may think that their work objectives are more important than those of their co-workers. They may believe their goals deserve priority, or they may simply not understand their co-workers goals. Interactions with customers can also lead to conflict. Complaining, dissatisfied customers may approach you looking for a fight. 8

9 Another common cause of conflict is differing needs. In the workplace, co-workers may compete for resources, recognition, raises, or promotions. Conflicts may arise among co-workers with different functions, each trying to do his or her job. Where their functions overlap or come into contact, territorial disputes may arise or competing interests may conflict. People may have different perceptions of situations, policies, and so forth. And this clash of viewpoints can lead to disagreements about what should be done and how it should be done. People may also be under pressure to perform, to achieve results, or to maintain schedules. These pressures can often bring co-workers together in confrontational situations. Of course, these same differences can lead to conflicts with customers. And they can cause conflicts in your personal life, too, with family, friends, neighbors, and others. Think about causes of conflicts in which you ve been involved. 9

10 In any conflict, you have five basic options. You can try to avoid the issue and hope it goes away, which it rarely does. It usually only gets worse. One person or group can surrender to another and give in to what they want. You can continue to compete with one another sometimes gaining, sometimes losing. You can try to negotiate a compromise, with each side giving up some of what it wants to make peace. Or you can collaborate with those with whom you ve been in conflict and work together to develop a mutually agreeable resolution. In other words, you can create a win-win solution to end the conflict. As you can imagine, collaboration is generally the most productive way to deal with conflict. Compromise can be a good fallback when two sides cannot come up with a mutually beneficial solution to their conflict. The other options are not effective if your goal is to resolve conflicts effectively rather than to continue fighting. 10

11 One of the best ways to minimize the chance of destructive conflict with coworkers, customers, or others is to communicate effectively. Good communication begins with sending clear messages. Here are some helpful strategies that you can use to reduce the risk of conflict. Take the time to sort out exactly what you want to say. Know your thoughts and feelings on the subject. When speaking, use I statements such as, I think, I believe, and I need. With I statements you take responsibility for your position. Avoid making you statements such as, You always do that, You never follow through, and The trouble with you is. The truth is that you don t really know for sure how the other person sees the issue. If you have to deliver a difficult message, before you speak to the person who needs to hear your message, make notes, talk into a tape recorder or in front of a mirror, or discuss the issue with someone who can be objective. 11

12 Another important part of sending clear messages is honesty. Tell the truth as you see it, simply and professionally. Provide complete information. Use the old who, what, when, where, and how formula. Try to phrase your statements positively. For example, I think it would be good if we could instead of How come you don t, or Why can t you. Or try saying, We need to instead of This isn t working. Avoid all the patterns that imply you or your viewpoint are superior, such as judging, criticizing, name-calling, diagnosing, patronizing, ordering, threatening, moralizing, or dismissing the other person s concerns as unimportant. 12

13 Conflicts often arise because people fail to listen to one another and really hear what others have to say. Here are some strategies for better listening to avoid conflicts. Don t interrupt. Give others the time they need to say what they have to say. Pay attention and avoid distractions when another person is talking to you. Don t sit there pretending to listen while really preparing your comeback. Be open and receptive. Don t jump to conclusions or make assumptions until you ve heard them out. Stay focused on issues, not personalities. Look at the person who is speaking to catch all the nonverbal cues to meaning for example, gestures, tone of voice, body posture, and facial expressions. 13

14 Show by your own eye contact, body posture, and gestures that you are listening and following what the other person has to say. Use your imagination to try to put yourself in the other person s position to understand his or her point of view. Ask questions to clarify points you don t understand. But be careful not to interrogate. And hold your questions until the other person has finished speaking. Restate what the other person has said to make sure you understand and that you are both agreed on what was said. Think about how you speak to others and how you listen to what they say. Is your communication style helping to avoid conflicts or is it contributing to them? 14

15 OK, here s a test. On the screen you see five possible answers to the question, Which is the best way to address conflict? By best we mean the choice that will be most likely to end the conflict and give everyone involved the most positive outcome. See if you can pick the right answer. The best way to address conflict is number 5: Collaboration. As we said earlier, collaboration, as opposed to all the other choices, allows you to create a win-win solution to end the conflict. 15

16 Now it s time to ask yourself if you understand the information presented so far. Do you understand what we ve said about: What conflict is and how it affects us? Common causes of workplace conflict? Options for addressing conflict? Communicating effectively to avoid conflict? It s important for you to understand all this information so that you can avoid conflicts on the job and in your personal life. Let s continue now to the next slide and talk about preparing yourself to deal with conflict. 16

17 Before you can resolve a conflict, you have to check your attitude and make sure you are ready to deal with the conflict constructively. Here are some important questions to ask yourself: Have you cooled down and distanced yourself a little from the conflict? Don t try to settle a conflict when you are angry. Can you be assertive without being aggressive? Can you focus on the issues, not personalities? Can you keep an open mind and be respectful of the other person s point of view even if you don t agree? Are you ready to look for areas of common interest? Are you more interested in resolving the conflict than in being right, blaming, or winning an argument? Are you prepared to let go of whatever happened in the past between you and focus on what you can do right now, together, to resolve this conflict? If the answer to any of these questions is no, your attitude needs adjustment before you are ready to resolve the conflict. You must try to detach emotionally and get over any lingering anger or resentment so that you can proceed with the conflict resolution process. 17

18 As we said at the beginning of the session, not all conflicts are bad. Some difference of opinion can be constructive. But when conflict becomes destructive, you need an efficient way to resolve it. Here s a simple process that can help. Call a truce and meet to talk about the conflict. You might wish to include a disinterested third party someone trusted and respected by both sides to help mediate the conflict. We ll talk more about mediating conflicts a little later. Treat one another with courtesy and respect even though you have differences. Also be sure to identify the cause or causes of conflict. Remember to focus on problems, not personalities. This requires the kind of communication both speaking and listening we discussed earlier. Each party to the conflict must have a full opportunity to define his or her view of the situation in terms the others can understand. This takes time and patience. Discuss ways to resolve the conflict. Remember, you are looking for a win-win situation in which the needs of both sides are met. Finally, agree to end the conflict. Also agree to meet again should there be any signs that the conflict is resuming. 18

19 Resolving conflicts with customers involves a similar process. But since customers are in a special category, we ll take a few moments to discuss the particulars of handling these conflicts. Ideally, if everyone is doing his or her job, you can avoid customers problems from escalating into open conflict. But sometimes it happens, so it s best to be prepared. The first step here is to listen carefully to a customer s complaints and identify problems correctly. Next, focus on solutions to the customer s problem. Don t get emotionally involved. Let your head, not your emotions, guide you. Be clear about policies and procedures, and don t promise anything you can t deliver. 19

20 Get help, if necessary, to resolve a conflict with a customer. If the conflict is serious and the customer is threatening legal action, for example, call in your manager to assist you. Don t try to handle potential explosive situations on your own. When you have agreed on a solution to the problem, check to make sure the customer is satisfied with the outcome and ready to end the conflict. And, of course, always follow up a little later to make sure that the problem has been resolved and the customer is still satisfied. Are you familiar with our policy and procedures for resolving conflicts with customers? You should be if you work with customers. 20

21 Recurring conflicts are particularly difficult to handle. They often involve deep and bitter feelings. Such conflicts involve patterns of behavior that may have been going on for a long time. Open conflict flares up from time to time and then things calm down again. But the basic reasons for the conflict are never resolved. Recurring conflicts can be highly destructive and must be dealt with once and for all. 21

22 You can take the lead in resolving such conflicts. By doing so, you will be doing everyone a big favor. Your first step is to identify all participants. Often these wars involve a number of people. You need to identify the foot soldiers as well as the leaders on both sides. Speak to each person individually and try to find out exactly what the conflict is about. Then bring all participants in the conflict together to discuss the problem. Encourage all participants to say exactly what s on their minds, but ask everyone to be professional and respectful. Summarize your understanding of the underlying conflict, and seek solutions to resolve these problems. 22

23 Here s what to do if you find yourself in the position of mediating a conflict at work. It s kind of like being a referee at a sports event. Make sure both sides understand that you value both people and that you are here to help, not to take sides. Explain how the conflict is affecting work. Try to deal with issues objectively and cool down strong emotions. Also appeal to a sense of fairness. Ask each person involved in the conflict what it would take to end the conflict. Look for common ground in these differing views. You may need to restate positions in a more positive light to encourage both sides to see common interests. Look for a win-win solution. Remember that most people are uncomfortable with conflict and really want it to end. So if you can bring the two sides together in a collaborative effort to find a mutually agreeable solution, you ll be helping everyone. Once a solution is agreed on, get a firm commitment from both sides that they will adhere to the agreement and try to resolve future differences more professionally and positively. 23

24 Learning how to resolve conflicts and work collaboratively with others can help you get along better at work and be more productive and successful. It can also help you have a more peaceful and rewarding personal life. 24

25 Knowing how to resolve conflicts effectively helps you: Accept differences among people; Successfully solve problems with co-workers, customers, and others; Identify mutual interests; Deal more constructively with anger and other emotions; Disagree respectfully without hostility; Recognize and implement win-win solutions; Break negative patterns that lead to cycles of conflict; and Improve listening skills. Think about what you ve learned about resolving conflicts and how you can use these ideas and skills on the job and in your personal life. 25

26 Now it s time for a short true/false quiz to test your knowledge of what we ve said about conflict resolution in the previous slides. Read each statement on the screen and decide if it s true or false. Let s begin. When mediating conflicts, you have to choose one side over the other. True or false? The correct answer is false. You should not take sides. You re supposed to be an impartial referee. Recurring conflicts are impossible to resolve. True or false? The correct answer is false. They may be difficult to resolve. But if you find underlying causes, involve all participants, and look for ways to break the cycle of conflict, you can succeed. Conflict resolutions skills can help you manage anger and other emotions. True or false? The correct answer is true. There are many benefits of learning conflict resolution skills. The only effective way to resolve a conflict is to dominate the negotiation and force the other side to give in. True or false? The correct answer is false. The way to resolve conflicts is to call a truce, treat one another respectfully, identify differences, discuss solutions, and agree to end the conflict. How did you do? Did you get all the answers right? 26

27 Let s review briefly now by asking if you understand all the information presented in the previous slides. Do you understand: Preparing yourself to resolve conflicts? The conflict resolution process? Resolving conflicts with customers? Resolving recurring conflicts? Mediating conflicts? How conflict resolution benefits you and others? You need to understand all this information to become a skilled and successful master of conflict resolution. Now let s continue to the next slide and some key points to remember about this session. 27

28 Here are the main points to remember from this session on conflict resolution: Some conflict is inevitable in life. How you handle conflict makes the difference between a successful resolution and a continuing dispute. Good communication both speaking and listening is essential for preventing conflict. Learning how to resolve conflicts effectively will improve your life. This concludes the conflict resolution training session. 28

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