By George Obst, Certified SCORE Mentor
In any organization that has two or more individuals there is likely to be conflict from time to time. In any successful environment there is bound to be conflict, disagreement, and promotion of disparate ideas. Where there is creativity, there exists the chance of conflict.
There are some guiding principles that, if applied effectively will result in positive outcomes.
- Conflict should be resolved through openness. Conflict is natural and should not be suppressed. If allowed to fester, it surfaces in unproductive ways and can negatively impact relationships. Conflicts should be discussed and used to sharpen the differences between issues. Through discussion, the best options will become visible.
- Issues should be the source of the conflict, not personalities. Although individuals may be parties to conflict, they should not be the issue. Another individual should not be the target of innuendo, put-downs, or embarrassment. What counts are the issues and the perceptions of those issues, and not the personalities involved.
- Conflict should involve a search for alternatives. Don’t play the “blame game” and pin the blame on someone for a problem. The driving motivation should be to solve the problem. Look for alternative actions, that, if executed well, will resolve the problem and eliminate the conflict.
- Conflict resolution should focus on the here and now, not on prior disagreements or previous behaviors. Working through a situation should be in a present-oriented setting. Focusing on history and prior disagreements, in general, won’t be productive in resolving today’s conflict. The present and the future is often a more constructive base for discussion than the past. Rather than dwell on what or who caused the conflict, emphasize what actions can be done now to provide a solution to the issue.
One of the common impediments to communicating freely is the defensiveness of people whose ideas and suggestions are being evaluated and perhaps disagreed with, in whole, or in part. You’ve probably experienced it in yourself on occasion. The pulse quickens, heat and color flood the face, palms sweat, the voice rises in pitch and perhaps in volume. These are natural reactions when one feels attacked or discounted in any way. To minimize these potential negative consequences, keep the following in mind:
- The person on the other side of the conflict has a point of view that is just as legitimate and reasonable to him/her as yours is to you.
- The other person may be uncomfortable about the conflict or disagreement, just as you may feel discomfort.
- It is safer and wiser to keep to the issues, and to avoid arguments, for the sake of arguing.
- Keep in mind that most people are reasonable, and when presented with attractive alternatives, will work toward a resolution of the conflict.
SCORE can help you develop the best solutions to your business conflicts and issues. SCORE has more than 70 certified mentors skilled in most business applications, who will meet with you, at no cost, as often as you feel necessary. SCORE is a resource partner of the US Small Business Administration and provides mentoring services at no cost to you. Call 602 745-7250 or click here to make your appointment with a SCORE mentor today.
About the Author:
George Obst is a Certified SCORE mentor with more than 30 years experience profitably managing and growing businesses, including start-ups, purchasing, financing and selling businesses.