A fear of conflict is common and natural among people. However, this fear can become something that not only limits our effectiveness as individuals and teams, but it can also backfire and create worse conflict. The ability of effectively confronting conflict early and often is a powerful trait. At our Leadership Mastermind last week, we faced our fear of conflict and talked about ways to overcome it. If you struggle with conflict, here are three ways you can deal with it:
- Don't get angry - When we think about conflict, there is a tendency to associate the conflict with fighting. Work hard to stay calm when addressing conflict. When we are calm, our logical brain is in control. When we get upset, the emotional part of our brain takes over and limits our ability to reason. It is best to handle conflict when you are calm and ready to talk. If you are upset in the moment and can, acknowledge it and give yourself some space and some time to process.
- Don't judge intentions - When talking through a situation with someone, focus on observations, not labels. Humans are designed to shut down when we people judge our intentions. If I tell an employee, "you are lazy", they likely won't listen. If I tell them, "I've noticed that you have been coming in later and later each day", we are starting the discussion from a much better place.
- Set Realistic Expectations - The thing with conflict is that the solution may not be what you imagined. This is because you are not the only party involved. The best mindset is to enter the conflict open minded. This will allow you to listen and try to understand what the other person is saying, which will make an impact on the other party and put you in a much better position to resolve the conflict.
Bonus Tip: don't avoid conflict with people who or situations that are important to you. One of the most common causes of major conflict that we see in businesses is the avoidance of conflict. This allows issues to fester and grow and creates divides among people.