Dealing with conflicts
in everyday professional life

What about conflict resolution in everyday professional life? Because resolving conflicts is one of the most important skills for a happy and fulfilling life – both in private and at work.

First of all: Conflicts are completely normal. They are simply part of life – in every relationship, in everyday life and of course also in the office. People feel, think, want and act differently – within a culture, across national borders and even in virtual spaces. Conflicts can and do happen. Why is this worth mentio­ning at all? Because many people have a great aversion to conflict. Some avo­id confrontation and perhaps prefer to put up with unspoken problems, while others become angry, perhaps even ag­gressive. In the long run, this can disrupt the atmosphere and unnecessarily cost energy, also in international teams. Pro­fessor Amy Edmonson, currently Profes­sor of Leadership at Harvard Business School, found that 89% of US respon­dents surveyed consider psychological safety in teams to be absolutely essen­tial in order to be able to work innovati­vely and well together. For this, dealing with conflict openly and constructively is indispensable.

De-escalation: How can we deal with conflict in a meaningful way when things threaten to escalate? Here it is worth looking at Peter Glasl’s model, which distinguishes between three pha­ses:

In the win-win pha­se it is still possible to negotiate a construc­tive outcome so that both sides come out of the conflict well. In the win-lose phase, on the other hand, it ends badly for at least one side, for example through dismissal. An actual lose-lose conflict, though ends in disaster for all parties involved.

This model can help us to reflect on what kind of conflict we are heading towards. Thus, in the next step, we can think about how to deal with a potential escalation or what we can do to comple­tely avoid one.

Here are three general tips:

PAUSE: Anger makes you blind. The brain, or more precisely the amygdala (also called the tonsil nucleus) is cons­tructed to do so. If you‘re highly emotio­nal, you can‘t think straight. So take your time when the anger comes.

APPOINTMENT: Make an appointment for the conflict to be aired, only with tho­se involved.

RULES: Every relationship needs rules: No insults. No interruptions. Even more difficult: No insinuations. And for profes­sionals: Listen actively and try to figure out what the other person is actually try­ing to get across.

It becomes more complex when con­flict involves people of different cultures, because the way conflict is dealt with is also culturally shaped. This model gives an initial overview:

There is no ONE set of instructions on how to resolve conflicts between col­lea- gues from different countries. One aspect is certainly helpful – always and everywhere, namely to check one‘s own attitude: Why is this or that so particular­ly important to me? What are the under­lying interests and values? And for what exactly?

In a second step, one should be interes­ted in the same questions to one‘s coun-terpart, open oneself to new views and let them stand value-free. Then there is room for mutual respect and the possi­bility of peacefully finding a win-win so­lution together.

Would you like to train your employees or your team in conflict management? We would be happy to support you with our expertise. Enter into dialog with us via our contact form.