Three tips to deal with Conflict

Effective Communication Skills – Three tips to deal with Conflict


Wouldn’t it be great if we could choose who we wanted to work with? Yet we have differences in personality, culture and working style, or a clash of competing objectives or even disagreements over solutions. The list of reasons why conflict occurs can be as long as your arm.

Therefore the ability to deal with conflict is a critical soft skill for Managers who lead and coordinate teams.

This article will give you three practical tips to help you deal with conflict in the workplace and maximise performance, thereby increasing productivity.

1. Use the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Modes Instrument (TKI)
DEALING WITH CONFLICT – The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Modes Instrument





The Thomas-Kilmann or TKI Instrument is probably the most well-known conflict management tool and is made up of the following five techniques, as shown in the diagram.

  1. Competing
  2. Compromising
  3. Avoiding
  4. Accommodating
  5. Collaborating

Depending on the situation and style of those involved you can use different levels of assertiveness and collaboration to resolve the situation. No one technique is better than the other, it depends entirely on the situation you are in and who you are dealing with. What it indicates is that your style you use should suit different people and different situations.

2. Improve your listening skills

If you work on your listening skills this will 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 the advent of mobile phones and social media to distract us.

Listening is one of those skills we were never taught at school to use effectively. Viral TED speaker and sound expert Julian Treasure argues that ‘we are losing our listening’ and in this video, he gives several useful ways to improve our listening skills.

3. Ask open questions  

Open questions are an effective tool to understand how the other person or party is feeling and will help you avoid assumptions, a common mistake when conflict occurs.

Avoid the habit of asking closed questions: those that can only be answered yes or no. Although any excellent way of summarising information, these two words generally fail to promote conversation.

Open questions, on the other hand, promote many benefits:

  • You can encourage the other person to reveal more and help solve the conflict
  • It may allow people to ‘vent’ and help ease tension.
  • Open questions can help place you in the other persons shoes.
  • The other person will feel that you are listening with empathy.

dealing with conflict - communication skills

As markets expand and pressure on competition increases, the sheer weight of demands and stresses on a business will be continually tested.

The ability of management to be able to deal with conflict in a way which replaces ill-feeling with trust, at the same time raising reputations, will not only build current relationships, it will attract new ones.

Can you really afford to slam the door on the next internal argument?

The Power of Active Listening

The Power of Active Listening


The power of Active Listening

Active listening is an underrated communication skill that Leaders and professionals need to develop and improve. The benefits which come from this ability will raise your reputation and help you develop empathy.

This article will explore the importance of active listening and how you can develop your skill to improve communication and at work.

What is active listening?

Active listening is the ability to pay attention to the other person without becoming distracted such as thinking about what you will say or how to respond. Nor should you allow yourself to get bored and lose focus on what the other person is saying.

Dr Stephen Covey author of The seven habits of highly effective people said “First seek to understand then to be understood“ In other words when listening to others you should focus 100% on them and not on what you want to say.

How can you develop your active listening skills?

1. Stay focused on the other person without interrupting

A simple but important part of active listening is to stay focused on what the other person is saying without interrupting them. Too many people, myself included, are in so much of a rush to say something that we often interrupt others and don’t stay as focused as we should. 

2. Show you are paying attention

When listening to other people you should show that you are paying attention by using good eye contact and acknowledge from time-to-time by smiling and encouraging the speaker to continue with small comments such as “yes” or “I see”, or prompts such as “tell me more”? Or “can you explain further?” 

3. Summarize key points 

While it is important not to interrupt, if you stay too quiet when listening, the other person might feel that you are not paying attention or do not fully understand their points. Therefore, when the speaker has finished you should summarize some of the key points made by the other person to acknowledge your understanding.

4. Dig deeper

An important aspect of active listening it to understand more deeply what is behind peoples’ words. In certain cultures, such as in Germany or Holland, what people say is what they mean. However, especially in Asia and even in the UK, what people say and what they mean are often two different things. When a British executive tells you that your idea is “interesting”, it can sometimes mean that they don’t like it!

5. Ask better questions

If you want to be a better quality listener you need to ask better questions. This could be follow-ups to dig a bit deeper and either understand the other person’s feelings, or to check you understand the other person correctly. It’s key to get a good balance between both open and closed questions. A common mistake people make when communicating is to use too many closed questions and risk making assumptions. Therefore, be sure to ask open questions and encourage the other person to explain in order to understand them more deeply.