Effective Communication Skills. 3 tips to address Conflict
We usually don’t chose who we work with and conflict can occur in the workplace due to differences in personality, culture and working style.
The ability to deal with conflict is a critical soft skill for Managers and staff of all levels to ensure teams work productively, efficiently and maximise performance levels.
If you would like to improve your conflict management skills you could attend a conflict management training course or learn some strategies to manage conflict. This article will give you three practical tips to help you deal with conflict if and when it arises in the workplace.
Use the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Modes Instrument (TKI)
The Thomas-Kilmann or TKI Instrument is probably the most well-known conflict management tool ever developed.
It is made up of the following five techniques:
Depending on the situation and style of the other person you can use different levels of assertiveness and cooperativeness to try to resolve the situation.
No one technique is better than another, it depends on the situation you are in and who you are dealing with.
The key point about this model is for you to understand your own natural style of dealing with conflict but importantly be able to adapt your style when necessary to different people and different situations.
Improve your listening skills
If you work on your listening skills this will definitely help you to improve your ability to deal with conflict. Listening seems like a basic skill but actually it is much harder that it seems, especially in the modern age with mobile phones and social media people have shorter and shorter attention spans.
Listening is such an important skill but we are never taught at school or at University how to do it effectively. Viral TED speaker and sound expert Julian Treasure argues that “ we are losing our listening “ and in this excellent video gives several useful techniques how to improve our listening skills.
Ask open questions
Asking open questions is a simple but effective tool to understand how the other person or party is feeling and will help you avoid making assumptions which is a common mistake when conflict occurs.
Some people get into the habit of asking closed questions and making incorrect assumptions. A closed question is simply a question that can only be answered yes or no. On the other hand an open question cannot be answered with yes or not.
What are the benefits of asking open questions?
- You can get the other person to speak more and this can sometimes help to solve the conflict as after people “ vent “ they often feel better.
- You can understand more deeply the reasons for the conflict and it can help you to put yourself in the other persons shoes.
- The other person or party will feel that you are listening to their feelings and being empathetic. This can go a long way to helping to resolve a conflict.
If you would like to further develop your Conflict Management skills you could consider attending a communication skills or listening skills course.