1.Attempt to address conflict as early as possible: there are usually a number of steps and escalation signs before conflict becomes overt eg a bad mood or vibe, poor productivity, office gossip. Generally the earlier we address the issues the less complicated and destructive conflict is and the easier it is to manage.
2. Create a safe and confidential forum for workplace conflict to be resolved: what can undermine the resolution of conflict is if those parties having the conflict do not feel safe or fear being labelled or scape-goated. Creating a safe and confidential forum, and reminding both them and ourselves that their view points and experiences are valid (not matter how diverse it may be) supports the resolution process.
3. Be aware of the power dynamics within the workplace: one of the biggest causes of workplace conflict is a lack of awareness of power dynamics. For example the power differential between a manager and staff member. This
might make it more difficult for the staff member to speak up in disagreement. If this disagreement festers for long enough it can create conflict. The solution is not about making the power differential equal, but more about being aware of it and its potential implications.
4. Think systemically: whilst there is usually a personal aspect to workplace conflict there is often a systemic or cultural aspect as well. Think about how open the team or organisational culture is to having honest and direct conversations. Does the leadership model and encourage these behaviours? Is there are formal feedback structure in place to create role clarity and clear expectations? The more we address these cultural and systemic issues, the more we reduce the fertile ground for conflict to occur.
5. Build your own capacity to deal with conflict: most of us hate dealing with conflict. And for most of us this aversion to conflict comes from childhood conditioning and the way conflict was handled (or not handled) by our parents and adult role models. The more we can work with our own issues and find the talents that we developed or were force to develop whilst growing up, the more capacity we have to address conflict in a proactive and effective