4 steps to keep conflict positive

Conflict is both inevitable and a necessary evil in the workplace. Rather than let a simple debate or disagreement turn into an energy- and productivity-zapping waste of time, take this advice:

Focus on the goal. What are you trying to accomplish? What outcome do you want? Encourage both sides to think about what they want to happen and why it’s important.

Commit to results, not specific solutions. Stop trying to make the group agree on a single approach. Instead, agree on a specific result and work from there. The right solution may require a merger of several ideas or an entirely new idea.

Keep an open mind. Don’t make assumptions about people’s intentions, thought processes, understanding of the subject and so on. Instead, ask questions and learn as much as you can about their perspectives before you draw any conclusions.

Listen. Actually hear the other person’s viewpoint and work to understand it. If you are talking over someone or rushing to respond, you won’t be able to find common ground with the other person, and the conflict will likely escalate.

MGR Handbook D

— Adapted from “Finding Common Ground: Leadership and Communication Lessons in a Fractured World,” Kevin Eikenberry, Leadership & Learning, http://blog.kevineikenberry.com.