Are you afraid of conflict and confrontation? Most people are. When we get into conflict with someone, we try to play the nice guy and avoid confronting the issue. Other times, we watch team members fight nonstop and we just don't know how to intervene or help. This typically ends in us feeling frustrated and upset, yet psychological paralyzed and unsure of what the right actions to take are.
Regardless of your role, be it management, sales, marketing or customer service, most jobs involve consistent relational and business interactions that require strong negotiation skills. As an organizational leader, you are responsible for creating a work environment that enables people to thrive. When conflict arises, you can turn it to your favor by avoiding dysfunctional conflict and turning it into a functional type of conflict.
In dealing with conflict, the most important thing to keep in mind is that: We are all different. We're not always going to get along with everyone we meet, and agree on every single thing, but we might have to work with them. This is why it is so important to have negotiation skills as a weapon in your arsenal in navigating the workplace.
Going into negotiating with others, make sure you have the right mindset:
Do not abandon value-creating strategies!
Business disputes don't have to be a zero-sum game - in which only one person can emerge victorious in a win-lose battle. Instead, negotiate your way to a win-win situation. Everyone can come out of this 'argument' feeling satisfied.
1. Watch out for the warning signs
Just like how dark clouds appear before a storm, there are always subtle indicators that negative emotions are brewing. For example, team members might display passive-aggressive behaviour. This allows you to deal with the situation before anything too explosive happens. Prevention is always better than cure.
2. Actively listen
Listen, really listen, to what people are saying. Whether it's an explanation, a comment or a criticism, put all your attention on listening. Set your emotions aside, as interrupting them will only worsen the conflict.
3. Express your ideas for resolving the problem
Once you've heard both sides of the story, express your input in a tactful manner. Make your comments sound like constructive suggestions for working towards a productive solution rather than as fighting words.
Unproductive comment: "I agree with Tom, I do not think your ideas are value adding to this project."
Productive comment: "I think we can draw on some of your ideas and everyone can work together to come up with an even better proposal."
Using these steps, you can come to a consensus as to what the next steps to take are. Strong negotiating skills are often a predictor of workplace success, which is why it is crucial for leaders to harness this skill.