As I’ve said in my previous article, we go to work in order to have a profession/ career that offers us various benefits: status, utility, recognition, appreciation, power, money, relationships, learning/ development etc. For sure, we do not go to start conflicts or to argue with others. However, how do we manage team conflicts when they arise?
And yet, there are people who seem to feed on that and are always on for conflicts.
The truth is, those people use the conflicts just as ”instruments” in order to obtain one or more benefits previously mentioned. Meaning, conflicts are the seen just as resources to get power, recognition, appreciation. It might seem a little bit weird, but even this is a learnt and repeated model.
In a family, when the child sees their parents arguing and realizes that the conflict makes one of them (or both parents) more powerful, it will mimic that behavior until it will become a behavior pattern.
Humans, in their most pure state, do not enjoy conflicts. But, as children, seeing them all around us, we start to think that they are a normality; this will generate a certain behavioral pattern.
There are also people that hate conflicts and would do anything to avoid them.
We learn about those types of behavior during the Problem solving and conflict management course. These are the children who suffered from family conflicts or the adults that wish to be liked by others so much that they would do anything to avoid haggles.
I wanted to explain this from the very beginning so everybody would understand that there is no such thing as bad people, just learned behaviors or needs that need fulfilment no matter what.
After more than 41 years of life and over 22 years of professional experience and as many searching for the truth about the human being, I came to the conclusion that there are no bad people, just suffering souls that try to defend themselves. Just like an adorable puppy that was beaten and it grown to be a dog that barks and bites at anything and anyone in order to protect itself.
Remember this explanation when conflicts arise in your team
When in your team are conflictual people, remember this explanation. And try to see those people as ”hurt children” that now try to protect themselves through conflicts. Maybe they didn’t receive enough recognition, love, or maybe they didn’t have a harmonious family, maybe they were abused emotionally or physically…they experienced something negative in their childhood and they concluded that conflicts are the only way to make them feel safe or to claim what they need.
Why should you think about this? Because, like this, you do not judge or critique from the start and you can manage those situations more rationally and with a better emotional state. Meaning, you will be correct and unbiased.
How do I act when I see a conflict?
The most important thing to do when you see a conflict is to stop it, not to get involved. After ending the conflict, you must have a private and very open discussion with each member of the conflict. Meaning, you need to collect all the information from each side: the reason, what they felt, what they thought, their point of view, what solution they believe fits the best for the given situation.
Out of all the questions, the most important ones are “how did you feel?” or “what do you feel?” because, in that moment, the person feels valuable, appreciated and important. We all wish to be important to others. This comes as a proof that we exist and we are seen as people, not just as means of production. Furthermore, this question brings awareness to the one in front of you. It makes them present and turn their attention to themselves, not to the other person nor to the existing conflict.
Regardless of the answers, do not contradict or judge; take it as a truth, exactly as what you hear to be said. Maybe for you it is not the truth, but for the other person it is. In other words, maybe in a similar situation, you would feel differently, but that doesn’t mean someone else might feel the same. On the contrary. Each of us has their own personality and life experience, living different contexts and situation according to it. So, take their words as truth and be curious about their perspective.
To be curious it means to know more about a subject
Ask as many questions as you can in order to have a complete and clear picture of the situation.
After you’ve heard the point of view of each of them and after they’ve calmed down, focus on the solutions they mentioned earlier. If they contradict (each of them is waiting for the other person to do something) or are not practical, require new ones after some time. Wait two – three more hours and request another talk with each of the conflict’s participants.
Keep in mind that during this new discussion, you need to do something differently: to consider their motivations and needs and to find a way of providing what they need.
As I was saying in the second part, people have four big categories of motivations: power, networking/ relationships, safety, learning/ development. If you are talking with a person motivated by safety, bring up in discussion the idea of it, rules compliance. If said person is motivated by power, strengthen their status/ role/ authority. If they are motivated by learning/ developing themselves – show them the growth opportunity out of that situation. Those who are motivated by networking won’t get in conflicts, create them and they will do anything to stop any rivalry/ strife.
A leader doesn’t solve the conflict themselves, but they give support to their employees as neutrally as they can.
Therefore, don’t go looking for the solutions yourself for team’s conflicts. People do not expect this from you, even though they might say so. Actually, they want to receive whatever they are searching for through that conflict: power, recognition, safety, justice tec. Given this reason, we say it’s important to find out how they feel. That is the hole they’re trying to fill through conflict. When their need is satisfied, the conflict ends.
Leadership = supports people, from a neutral position, to resolve their own conflicts
Leader-sheep = solves the conflicts of the team, assuming the role of “authoritarian parent”.
Did you enjoy this article? We discuss how to successfully resolve situations in the company, within the Coach Manager course, part of the Next Level Management program – designed to develop management skills that can be applied immediately at work.