Executive Issues: Three Workplace Conflict Resolution Strategies
In an increasing global economy with an improving job market, it’s more important to keep your employees happy so they don’t jump ship. And one of the skills that will make that happiness a reality is proper conflict resolution, writes Jeffrey Krivis, adjunct professor of law at the Straus Institute for Conflict Resolution and author of “Improvisitational Negotiation: A Mediator’s Stories of Conflict About Love, Money, Anger -- and the Stratagies That Resolved Them.”
Following are a few of Krivis’ solutions for dealing with workplace conflicts:
* Let people tell their stories. One of the basic principles of mediation is that a person who’s deeply upset needs to get his story out, Krivis writes. Although allowing people to speak their minds often can increase the level of conflict, get through the high tension phase in order to reach a solution. When a person feels that he’s finally been heard, his outlook often can dramatically change. “Plus, as he tells his story, new information may come to light that allows a solution to naturally emerge,” Krivis notes.
* If someone refuses to budge, take the spotlight off them. Often in a multiparty conflict, there’s one person or party that refuses to compromise on every solution you present, Krivis points out. This person is holding out for what he or she really wants. When that happens, Krivis recommends taking attention off that party and focusing on solutions that don’t involve his or her input. You effectively isolate that party from the negotiation process and neutralize any perceived power, which can reverse opinions on compromise.
* Think creatively about ways people can cooperate rather than clash. “In every negotiation, there is a tension between the desire to compete and the desire to cooperate,” Krivis writes. Be on the lookout for signals that support a cooperative environment. How can each party help the other in a way that creates a meaningful solution? Many joint gains are born of conflict, he notes.
For info on Krivis’ book, “Improvisitational Negotiation: A Mediator’s Stories of Conflict About Love, Money, Anger -- and the Stratagies That Resolved Them,” (Jossey-Bass), visit www.wiley.com.