Conflict is uncomfortable for everyone. For those directly involved and for those on the outside. . “Maybe it will just go away,” we hope. Or perhaps we act overly nice to compensate. But according to Amy Jen Su, writing in the Harvard Business Review, ignoring the conflict or being nice can make the problem worse, not better.
“You create relationships that are neither authentic nor constructive,” Su writes. “Your health and self-esteem may suffer and you signal that you’re a victim. And your organization loses out as you make compromises with the loudest person in the room, lose the diversity of thinking that’s critical for innovation, or stop producing the best solutions.”
Instead of ignoring conflict and “killing with kindness,” Su suggest three other alternatives:
Focus on the needs of your company
When you avoid conflict, it actually places the focus on you—which isn’t where it should be. Adjust this focus by turning the sites back on your business.
Use observations, not labels
It’s natural to tell someone, “You really responded negatively to what I had to say in the meeting.” But it’s better to say something like, “While I was talking in the meeting, I noticed your body language became changed and that you responded quite strongly. I’d like to discuss how you could share your concerns in a more positive way.”
Keep calm and conflict manage on
If you’re upset, take a step back until you’ve cooled off. A calm demeanor and even-keeled perspective are necessary in dealing with the conflict constructively.
Practice, practice, practice
Like everything, resolving conflict becomes easier with practice. Start with smaller things—say if someone keeps causing a mess in the break room—and work your way up.
(via Harvard Business Review)