It is a fact that if conflict is not resolved it may lead to disengagement (and following underperformance) of employees. Conflict has very different shapes, interpretations and ways of handling, especially in a diverse context. Yet, conflict is not always a bad sign. It might as well be a sign of well integrated team members that all feel the right/feel comfortable to express their opinions and feelings.
Let me ask you:
Do you know what pushes your buttons?
Do you know if your counterpart observes conflict along a linear process and the conflict is over once there is a solution found?
Why is this important?
Conflict can be connected to the cultural socialization in which one grew up (national culture, family culture, expectations man/woman, etc.), yet, it does not always occur due to cultural differences in an intercultural context. Conflict can present a source of development and improvement, if well handled.
The first step is that you know how you behave in conflict situations, and more importantly what causes conflict for you and why you behave that way in a conflict situation.
Follow the steps in the exercise to become aware and make use of this in the next conflict situation:
* Also make sure you understand/know how conflict is “OK” to have: Some individuals are socialized to express feelings and opinion forcefully with raised voice, others learned to avoid eye contact and to put on a poker face.
That is not a problem as such, however, problems might arise in the way people interpret/judge these different behaviors. E.g. someone that is loudly and with raised voice expressing an opinion might be perceived as arrogant to others whereas to that team member a restraint person during a conflict discussion is perceived as not trustworthy or not engaged.
Simple and easy to implement facilitation to identify, analyze and move beyond conflict in a team/group/as a pair:
1) Identify the conflict objectively: What is the problem?
2) Lay out the facts
3) Listen to the situation from the point of view of each person involved (positions and interests, feeling involved, role behavior, etc.)
4) Establish the conflict including the newly acquired knowledge and identify the next steps (future evolution) of the conflict
5) Point out action alternatives and agree on further proceedings
Food for thought:
Instead of looking at conflict (disagreement, etc.) as a problem, look at it as a chance to change perspective and an opportunity to learn. It is one of the “easiest” sources to look beyond your own point of view.