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Whilst they say the path of true love never runs smooth, it is inevitable that the path of any business, irrespective of size, will experience conflict along the way, in a variety of forms. Be it business to business, or internally within the workplace, businesses simply cannot get away from it.
Whenever you get people with their own ambitions, opinions, status, relationships, roles and motivations, you will get conflict; and that is never more apparent than within an organisation.
There are many articles about embracing conflict, especially within the workplace, but here is the problem for the businesses; Conflict Costs!
The CBI reported that conflict costs UK businesses an estimated £33 billion per year, taking up 20% of leadership time and potentially losing up to 370 million working days. Then consideration should be given to the loss of reputation, loss of on-going business, loss of expertise and resources, the deterioration of relationships; all of which are of huge detriment to any organisation.
By relying on the skill and expertise of independent mediators, businesses ensure that they don’t compromise short term disputes over long term overall business efficacy.
Charlotte Bates and Lee Pritchard of ClearSkyADR specialise in Civil and Commercial workplace mediation and training; helping businesses and individuals navigate the unavoidable disputes that occur, by facilitating effective conflict resolution.
Mediation provides a means to resolve disputes in way that saves time, money and provides a confidential environment, enabling individuals to be invested in finding solutions that work for them.
In their experience there really is no organisation too big, or disagreement too small to benefit from this approach. In fact as expert mediators and trainers they have experienced how first-hand the smallest embers of discord can ignite into a blazing fire.
As someone who works with large corporate organisations and runs my own small businesses I was keen to understand how to resolve conflicts with ease, so I asked Charlotte and Lee to share 5 simple tips with me – so I could share with you!
Drawing from their toolkit, here are 5 simple tips that can be used for successful conflict resolution.
Tip 1 : Positions to Interests
It is important to identify the needs of each stakeholder in a scenario where there is conflict.
Often in a dispute individuals takes up a stance that he/she thinks will satisfy their interests; this is their position. Positions are entrenched, fixed and have only one outcome – the one a person has already decided! Interests are the reasons for that position. Exploring the motivations, concerns, hopes, fears, values etc. which underpin a position will reveal the interests, opening up many solutions!
For example, we have a scenario with two brothers who both ended up with half an orange. One wanted the rind for a cake, the other the flesh for juice – both could have had the whole of what they wanted had their true motive been revealed.
Being honest about not only your position but more importantly the motives that underpin it can help individuals come to a conclusion that works for all parties .
Tip 2 : Know what you want
Where there is a situation relating to conflict, mediation or dispute – clarity is one of the most important elements to move forward professionally.
Get clear about what is important and what is not so vital, more importantly be open to the opportunity for compromise.
For example, It is an idea to organise what you want into lists:
Must haves / Immediate
Would likes / Short or Long Term
Could be willing to forgo / Cant do
By looking clearly at what really matters the most, or what is perhaps the most time critical it opens up so many opportunities for movement in a dispute, for compromise and to more effectively resolve the dispute. It even promotes the opportunity to collaborate; are there areas of shared importance or urgency? Is there anything in another persons ‘must have’ that you already decided you would ‘forgo’. Compromise is key to resolution.
Tip 3: Focus
Think about how and where you focus your attentions
It can be all too easy to focus on problems as opposed to solutions. Is there anything that can be agreed upon? Sometimes the simple act of saying “Yes” over the most seemingly innocuous topic is instantly more agreeable.
Another area to focus on is moving forward – look forward at the solution, rather than churning over the past.
Like a tyre in mud, going into reverse only ends up with you being deeper in the mud! More often than not, a tractor will pull you out – focus on those who can help you out instead of those pushing you deeper in.
Tip 4 : Watch your language
And not just some of the more choice language!
Using emotive language that assigns blame is unhelpful; so avoid words like, “always”, “never” and exaggerations.
If you know your language is emotive and you are not able to change your communication style in that moment, then take a moment to consider what you say next before speaking.
Tip 5: Silence is golden
Don’t be scared of silence! It might feel uncomfortable, but at some point someone will speak, and it is often the words said in those moments which can be the most revealing.
These simple tips can be easily tried in everyday workplace interactions, and even used to rectify minor conflicts in your life, job or business but there are some scenarios that need professional assistance. Mediators like Lee and Charlotte use advanced techniques to help facilitate successful outcomes, and help organisations to utilise such techniques effectively – conflict can be expensive – no one likes to spend more than necessary but it also doesn’t feel as good as resolution.
March 6, 2019 at 10:54AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs