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How to Handle Conflict
For many of us, every day is a struggle to avoid conflict. Yet avoidance is practically impossible since the core characteristics, ideas and beliefs of each individual often conflict with our own. Differences of opinion, competitive zeal, and misinterpretations, among other factors, can all generate ill feelings between co-workers within an organization. While we can't avoid conflict, we can learn how to sidestep negative confrontations by becoming familiar with the types of conflicts that most commonly arise in the work place and by learning how to resolve them.
As a manager, you must approach every conflict as an opportunity to improve employee relationships, to lessen tension in the workplace, and to eliminate long-standing problems. Learn to treat conflict as a natural dynamic in employees relationships: it often proves useful by forcing employees to solve problems. Problem-solving results in effective communication.
Causes of Conflict: Conflict occurs when two or more individuals (or groups) within an organization need to solve a problem together. The problem could be minor such as organizing a weekly cleanup crew for the coffee break area, or major such as training employees on new and complex corporate procedures. Whatever the scenario, any situation can turn sour. The parties' interests may clash, one party's actions may insult the other party, or both parties could just have incompatible personalities.
Conflict falls under two major headings: low cost conflict and high-cost conflict. Low cost conflict can be constructive. New ideas and improvements often arise out of low-cost conflict. For example, cleaning up the coffee area can easily be solved by organizing a schedule, which is a constructive solution.
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