Curiosity kills conflict. It sounds morbid, I know, but hear me out. When you take the time to truly understand what has led to the conflict, you can typically deflate the conflict. This is good news because conflict in some form is inevitable when humans are involved. At work, managers spend about 25% of their time resolving workplace conflicts, eating into valuable time that could be used elsewhere. And recent research shows that conflict between employees is on the rise.  

Get Curious About Personality Type  

As we’ve said before, people differences trigger people problems every day everywhere. Most of the time it’s because people don’t understand how and why they show up at work the way they do. And if they don’t understand themselves, it’s highly unlikely that they will understand how and why their workmates show up the way they do. This sets the stage for miscommunication that often leads to conflict. 

Manager Tip:

Do you know what your personality type is and how it might be affecting your management style? Many don’t, but there is an easy fix. All you have to do is take an Everything DiSC™ assessment. Then you’ll receive a 20+ page report outlining your particular personality style including your priorities, motivators, challenges and stressors. This in depth information will shed light on how your personality affects your management style. The assessment will also offer you tips on how to work with the other personality types. 

Get Curious About How Your Team Feels About Conflict 

Managing a team will be easier if you create norms around conflict. Norms can be extremely beneficial because they provide rules or patterns around how the individuals on a team should respond in conflict situations. Once a norm or set of norms is embedded into the social fabric of the team, it will be much easier for each individual team member to hold themselves and each other accountable.  

Manager Tip:  

To create norms around conflict, you must first get to know your team a little better. Find out how each teammate feels about conflict. For example, do they run headlong into the fire, or do they run away from it? And if there is unresolved conflict, do they hold a grudge, avoid the other person involved, or just let it go? What behaviors do they believe are acceptable and which ones are unacceptable when engaging in conflict? Then hold a team meeting to discuss the answers to these questions and vote on the norms that the team would like to see implemented around how conflict will be handled going forward.  

Get Curious and Show Empathy

Sometimes when there is conflict, it’s best to just listen. We all want our side of the story to be heard, and we almost always feel justified about our emotions and how we remember things. So taking the time to listen to teammates that are experiencing conflict can serve to not only meet that emotional need, but also help to show empathy. A study by research firm DDI found that empathy is one of the most important drivers of overall performance among managers. And managers who show higher levels of empathy toward their team are viewed as better performers by their bosses as reported in another recent study. Honing your empathy skills by listening to your teammates is a win-win. 

Manager Tip:  

When conflict occurs, take the time to talk to everyone involved and really listen. Active listening involves being attentive and letting it show by looking the other person in the eye and leaning slightly forward. When they seem to have finished with what they want to tell you, simply say, “Hmm. Tell me more.” They may falter for a minute as they realize that you truly want to listen, but then they’ll continue with more details. Continue with ‘tell me more’ until you feel that there is nothing more to share or be gleaned from the conversation. It’s rare to be listened to with such intention, so doing it will help create psychological safety for the team member. And it will show that you have empathy for their situation.  

At The End Of The Day

There is no way to get rid of all conflict in the workplace. But you can work to lead the team toward productive conflict where individuals can openly discuss their opposing ideas in a respectful manner and without fear of backlash. This will take time but it’s totally doable. And the reward will be a team that works together instead of against each other. To get started you just need to get curious about  personality, how the team feel about conflict, and showing empathy. These strategies will help you reduce the time spent dealing with negative conflict.

If you’d like to understand more about how you show up as a manager, reach out to us today for a DiSC™ assessment and put yourself on the path to success. Because the Culture (R)evolution starts with you!

You may also like: