Developing Conflict Resolution Strategies at Your Workplace

Developing Conflict Resolution Strategies at Your Workplace

Conflict starts when we don’t get what we want.

It is inevitable at some point in our workplace each of us will experience conflict. This does not have to be the beginning of a strained relationship. Instead, learn how to use this challenging moment to open up to dialogue and create a strategy that results in resolution.

Part two of my article “Do Your Co-Workers Annoy You” delves a little bit deeper into what to do when this is happening to you. 

Conflict is born when we use verbal and behavioral weapons to solve it.  What are these weapons?

  • We assume the cause of our feelings is from the outside of us. “if it weren’t for them!” “it is their fault!”
  • Then we use destructive methods to get our needs met including attacking, avoiding, ignoring, capitulating, or manipulating, to name just a few.  

There are two fundamental questions we must first consider:

  1. Why do people behave the way they do?
  2. How can people improve?

We are all driven to fulfill specific unconscious needs. Having my needs met makes me feel good. Our behavior reflects this.  We call this “Best Self.”  We may be more optimistic, more personable, more creative, perhaps friendlier and calmer, resulting in better leadership.

If our needs are not met, we move from Best Self to Shadow Self. As a result, our behavior may appear condescending, judgmental, manipulative, harsh, aggressive, overly emotional, withdrawn, self-absorbed, procrastinating, indecisive, and on and on.  

The first step is to be aware of what we are seeking by these needs.  They are as follows:

  1. Things must be perfect, correct, and right
  2. I must be needed and appreciated
  3. I must succeed and achieve
  4. I must be special and find meaning in life
  5. I must be knowledgeable and smart
  6. I must be safe and secure
  7. I must enjoy life and be happy
  8. I must be strong and self-reliant
  9. I must have peace and harmony

While we may seek each of these at various times, research shows that we seek two of these more than others.  And this list is reflective of your personal narrative, i.e., what you unconsciously tell yourself that you must have in order to survive emotionally.  It is probably what you did in order to  “survive” as you were growing up.  It became such a habit that you are not even aware of it.  Step one, make what is unconscious more conscious. When frustrated, pause to consider that it is not what other people are doing to you. It is not others who are keeping you from your goals.  Rather, it is your own deep-seated belief that you must have this in order to be whole and fulfilled.  It is, without question, a fictional goal.  

What to do?

First, pause…learn to shut up and listen.  

This is a practice explored in Radical Acceptance, where it is stated “A pause is a suspension of activity, a time of temporary disengagement when we are no longer moving toward any goal. We stop asking, what do I do next?” 

Tara Brach, Ph.D. and founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington

Rather than defending yourself or arguing in an effort to win, try to gain an understanding of what the other person wants.  Keep in mind that arguments start out as much deeper than what the individual’s words convey.  “You don’t value me” may come out verbally as “you are taking my responsibilities away from me.  “You don’t have trust in my abilities” may initially come out as “why are you controlling everything I do?”

Second, realize that your opinions or assumptions are not always right or, at least, are not the only right ones.  

Third, don’t get “historical.”  In other words, don’t bring up the past.  

Fourth, other people have just as legitimate a pursuit as you do.  Just like you, they have honorable intent.  

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