TAP In with Tristan : Reframing Workplace Conflict

Tristan talks about reframing conflict in the workplace. All of us experience conflict at work, and sometimes it can be challenging to get through. We’d like to extend a huge shout-out to Dr. Clyde Barnett III, who shared these conflict resolution strategies that will be helpful!

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Tristan: What’s going on, Living Corporate? It’s Tristan, and I want to thank you for tapping back in with me as I provide some tips and advice for professionals. Today, let’s talk about conflict in the workplace.

Recently, I had a coaching call with a client who was having an issue handling conflict in the workplace. So I decided to bring Dr. Clyde Barnett III onto the call to discuss conflict resolution strategies that would be helpful. I wanted to share some of the things he discussed from that call because all of us experience conflict at work, and sometimes it can be challenging to get through.

Before discussing conflict, we all need to be on the same page on what conflict is. So for our purposes, the working definition for conflict is an expressed struggle between at least two interdependent parties who perceive incompatible goals, scarce resources, and interference from others in achieving their goals.

While we must recognize that conflict always involves some risks and costs, conflict is like air and doesn’t always have to a negative thing. It is very normal and inherent in human interaction; therefore, it is a healthy part of any relationship we have in our lives. Conflict can be an opportunity for teaching, learning, and innovation. While it can create damage, that damage is typically due to the dysfunctional strategies we use to deal with them. Sometimes that damage is irreversible, so it’s necessary that we develop skills to handle conflict in a healthy way.

Another misconception is that conflict is simply a communication issue, but that’s not the case. Conflict arises from differences in values, motivations, perceptions, ideas, or desires. That means that we have to do a little introspection and reflection to understand our goals and the other person’s goals to figure out where we are not aligned and to recognize the legitimacy of our conflicting needs. This is what opens pathways to creative problem solving, team building, and improved relationships.

Let’s talk about a few things to help you deal with conflict. First, document your interactions, it can help you quickly relieve and manage stress, but it also provides you with something to refer back to if necessary. You also need to recognize and manage your emotions. Remember, 98% of what people do has little to do with you and everything to do with them. Keeping this in mind can help you keep your emotions in check. Next, you have to improve your nonverbal communication skills. Check your face and body language. Is it open and receptive, or are you closed off and showing disdain? This can make a world of difference while trying to resolve the conflict. Lastly, become a better listener. You have to understand why others are upset, work to understand their perspective, repeat words used, ask for clarification, and resist interjecting your own perspective at that point in time.

The listening part is critical. One strategy to use is LARA, which stands for Listen, Affirm, Respond, and Ask a Question or Add. This builds respect and common ground between people in conversation, allowing you to explore your differences more openly and honestly.

It’s important to note that sometimes in conflict, there is no resolution, and other times the resolution may be to remove yourself. That could be from a particular situation, that department, or even from the job completely.

Thanks for tapping in with me today! Don’t forget; I’m now taking submissions from you all on career questions, issues, concerns, or advice you think may help others! So make sure to submit yours at bit.ly/tapintristan.

This tip is brought to you by Tristan of Layfield Resume Consulting. Check us out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook @layfieldresume or connect with me, Tristan Layfield, on LinkedIn.

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