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  • Linda R. Taliaferro

4 Keys to Solving Workplace Conflict

Updated: Feb 1, 2021

Human beings are complicated, and we're not always going to agree. Disagreements are part of being alive! So demonstrating conflict resolution skills is a crucial part of reaching a leadership position. Here are some of the best ways to handle conflict in your workplace and show your leadership skills.

Assume good intentions

In my experience, nine times out of ten, people go into a situation with good intentions. Nobody wakes up in the morning, twiddling their mustache and thinking about how they're going to go be evil today. Misguided or not, people want to do good. So when you're dealing with conflict, unclench for a minute and release the narrative you're creating in your head that this person is trying to hurt you or cause problems for you on purpose. That story is probably not true, and it doesn't help you to work through the issue.

Find the ways that your goals can align

Everyone has goals, and conflicting goals are part of the reason we sometimes argue. Turn those differences around and find points of alignment. If you want to take a project in one direction and your "opponent" wants to go in a different direction, your common ground might be that you want to create a better experience and get better results. Remind the person that you're both working against the same problem, and that it's you two versus the obstacle, not you two against each other.

Don't make it personal

I'm not going to deny that there are biases and prejudices that impact your work experience. As a black woman, I'm well aware that prejudice exists. But for the time being, try and remove your own feelings from the equation. This can be really hard, and I'm not asking you to put them away forever. If the problems are severe, you may need to take it to HR. However, if you need to accomplish a goal, remove your personal feelings from the equation and try and approach the situation with less resistance. Almost nothing other people do is truly about you, so try and reframe negative remarks or irritating setbacks as a reflection of the other person’s hangups, not a reflection on you.

Think about the long term goal

Conflict resolution is difficult, but if you can get it right, it shows a huge amount of executive presence and leadership skills. If you can take a hostile situation, neutralize it, and accomplish the goal, you demonstrate that you're ready for a higher-level position. Remembering your purpose (getting that seat at the table) can help you to relax, put your feelings aside, and do the work that others often can't: getting work done despite challenges. It's a tremendously powerful trait to demonstrate.

If you'd like help addressing your personal situation in the workplace, let's connect. Click here to get something on my calendar.

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