Conflict is a struggle that arises when the goal of one person or group comes or is perceived to come in the way of another person or group. It is natural. I wonder how many times do we reflect on our style of managing conflict. While conflict is natural and practically every relationship experiences it, if managed effectively, it enhances productivity. The COVID 19 crisis is a classic example of how nations, corporates, and individuals faced challenges, remained resilient, and collaboratively found ways to handle the crisis. An example is those students who have graduated now. They are facing the challenge of traditional jobs not being there or the withdrawal of offers already made. As Google CEO stated “Such situations happened earlier. 100 years ago, the class of 1920 graduated post a deadly pandemic; 50 years ago, the class of 1970 graduated in the midst of the Vietnam war; and nearly 20 years ago, the class of 2001 graduated just months before 9/11. They had to face notable challenges and they prevailed”. So will the generation today handle the change.
Look at these relationships (conflict) situations and see if you can relate with or have experienced any of them or something similar:
1. Poor listening. lack of mutual respect, ego, anger:
a. Sagar has been very successful in his career and believes that he knows how things should be handled. Since he joined Carl System at its startup stage and now heads it, he has got used to running the show his way. Hari an experienced person was recruited by Sagar to head Sales. Hari has come up with some ideas that are different than Sagar. The goals are same but there is a conflict as ideas to approach the goal differ. In a meeting Hari shared his ideas and immediately Sagar angrily responded in front of others: “This will not work”
b. During Covid situation. Ryan is working from home. Consequently, the workload for his wife Reena, who is a home maker, has increased. Ryan does not help in any household chores or taking care of their 4 year old son. Reena is very troubled and feels that Ryan should not take her for granted. He must help also. But Reena does not know what to tell him. Her anger is building up.
2. Facts went out of the window:
Michael was told by Ann that his best friend Hari had said that Michael is cunning and he should watch out. Michael by nature is short tempered, He gets very upset and avoids talking with Hari
3. Differing attitude/basis, values and style: Our attitude towards how we see our needs and others needs impacts how we handle conflicts. The style can be: We both do not bother (Lose:Lose) or I must win in any case and I do not care if you lose (Win: Lose); or let us find a solution mid way ( Win: Win) or let us collaborate to mutually benefit (Win: Win)
John believes he must win in every deal and every negotiation. He must have his way. “My way or the highway for you.” He has been successful but of late his suppliers are avoiding him (Win:Lose)
Abraham is a very people friendly person. When his friend asked him if he can use his care for the weekend as his own car had gone for service, despite knowing that he had to take his family out, Abraham allowed his friend to take his car. It was a forgettable weekend that Abraham had with his family with all daggers drawn out. (Lose:Win)
A meeting had been called by the CEO of Nadar Construction to discuss and resolve the problem of high Safety Non-conformance report from sites. The PD, Construction Head and his Project Managers and the Safety Head and his deputy were present. The Head of Construction took a stand that Safety was the responsibility of the Safety department and not the construction team. The Safety Head stated that the safety standards need to be practiced by the construction team. He offered to conduct safety awareness and training for all existing people. The Construction head agreed that he would have his people to undergo the Safety training and will hold his people responsible for practicing safety at work (Win:Win)
Ram runs a recruitment company from India and has clients in the Middle East. Rohit runs a recruitment and staff outsourcing company in Qatar. Both know each other and are competition for each other as both recruit staff. During Covid, international’s travel has stopped and so has recruitment of candidates from overseas. Rohit approaches Ram and shares that they can work together by Ram leveraging his contacts for outsourcing of staff which would be handled by Rohit on mutually agreed terms.
4. Meta Conflict: having conflict about the conflict. Eg. You always nod along but you never actually hear what I am saying. You want to say “No” but keep quiet. Rahul’s wife Aneeta was upset with him as he bought a Chocolate cake from the pastry shop instead of buying a Black Forest cake. She told him : “You cannot do anything correctly. It is useless to give you work” Rahul had a tough day at office. He got vey upset. He shouted back at Aneeta: “A cake is a cake. If you are so particular – go buy it yourself.” Very soon there was a to and fro verbal duel with Rahul banging the bedroom door shut.
A person’s inability to deal with anger frequently results in communication breakdownIf you are clear in what you need, hold the value of mutual self respect high, do net let your ego ego color your relationships and judgment, have an attitude for give and take and to be part of the solution and not just the problem, you will be effective in managing conflict effectively. You must give advice that you yourself practice. Avoid passing judgement about people especially when they are not present. It all travels back and causes conflict.
It is worth reflecting if you actually do so.
Common Rules:There are some common rules to minimise the above conflicts.
- How you feel about yourself is proportionate to how you communicate and relate with people around you
- Manage your anger and not let it manage you
- Uphold your self-respect high & manage your ego. Do not let your ego manage you
- Be aware of your emotions. Admit your emotions. Do not ignore or deny them.
- Own your emotions. Accept responsibility for what you do. Investigate your emotions. Do not seek for a means of rebuttal to win an argument.
- Integrate your emotions with your intellect and your will. Allow yourself to learn and grow as a person.
2. Communication Essentials & Assertiveness:
Communication is as critical for our relationships as water is for our health. Research has shown that it is not your words but your non-verbal behavior and the tone of your voice that has a significant impact on how people receive your communications. Listening with proper eye contact, normal steady posture, speaking with a steady voice, and nodding from time to time too indicate that you have understood the other person and not interrupting while the other person is talking are essentials. It is important that we focus on understanding the other person’s point of view, check our understanding, clarify where needed, ask their logic for their point of view before we respond, and stay focused on facts and logic. If a person is highly emotional while talking with you and is not being logical, would it help if you also get emotional or get angry?
A question gets asked whether the style of being aggressive or submissive or avoiding is effective. The expert opinion is that these styles could be used one-off in a situation but are not effective in resolving conflict. What is needed is being assertive. This involves standing up for your personal rights and expressing your thoughts, feelings views, and beliefs directly, honestly, and spontaneously in ways that do not infringe on the right of others. Believe in yourself and say what you want to say clearly while being respectful to the other person. You can do this only if:
You maintain self-confidence about yourself Respect your self and others take responsibility for your actions and choices ask openly what you want do not rely on the approval of others do not copy others without logic