A highly effective people manager manages conflict well

As business owners and managers we will be presented with conflict regularly and the inevitable tough conversations ensue. How we manage ourselves through these situations will either add or subtract from our leadership. It will either build confidence in our leadership style or whittle it away. Therefore knowing our preferred style of approaching conflict builds self awareness and, with that understanding, we can grow.

Is our natural method of dealing with difficult situations the best approach for that particular conflict? Research reveals there are at least five ways we can respond to conflict.

Reflect on the following and try to identify your fallback approach when dealing with conflict keeping in mind the context in which you use them.

Are you:

  • The Evader – you find yourself sweeping it under the carpet hoping it will go away. You get busy in your office and let time pass. You delegate it to another manager.
  • The Contender – you have no problem speaking about the tough issues but when you do, you make sure your voice is louder and stronger than the others. You push your point until the offending party gives in. You dominate the conversation and make sure you get your point across.
  • The Ultimate Team Player –You find yourself researching the other’s point of view and have strong intentions to help find an alternative strategy. You are willing to put aside your position in order to find a workable solution.
  • The Enabler – You take the passive assertive method of communicating and go along with the other person rather than address the difficult issue. You don’t want to upset the person so you find yourself being even more friendly than before as its your hope that the individual will be more predisposed to the inevitable firm but kind chat you must have.
  • The Negotiator – You find yourself suggesting that both sides need to make some changes in order to gain a win–win.

Most of us can own up to using more than one of these methods depending on the other party and the context. For example we may at home evade and never deal with the real issue or, we might enable poor the behaviour or the other person by giving in to their stronger desire. Then at work we might use a completely different method.

Each of the above can be effective in the right situation. Knowing when to let it go or, when to accommodate is critical in any situation. Deliberate application of the right method at the right time will go a long way to building our leadership. I encourage you to take note of your natural tendency when faced with the next difficult situation and be on purpose with your approach. Give careful thought to what is the right approach and be deliberate about your response.

Expertise will come with time. Time is required in order to grow. John Maxwell calls this the Law of Process.

Article based on information from Management Training Australia and John Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of leadership.

About Ingrid Aitken Gattari, Achievers Group

Ingrid Aitken Gattari is the wife of Tony Gattari. She is executive director at Achievers Group. Ingrid has a wealth of experience across a number of industries and has worked in the fields of journalism, public relations, counselling and administration. Ingrid is highly qualified and has a degree in communication (journalism), a diploma in public relations and community services. Ingrid specialises as a trainer, facilitator and coach is the areas of team work, personal development and conflict resolution.

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