It is a common response to want to put on your running shoes whenever you hear about conflict. Wanting to get as far away from the challenge is understandable, although it’s far from an effective response. Before you get into a sprinter’s stance the next time your team wrestles with conflict, consider how a more proactive approach will benefit everyone involved.
Start by understanding why individuals are upset. Reframe from trying to defend a position or believing you can fill in the blanks based on what you know about the team members involved. Challenge yourself to really understand what is behind the issues.
For example, if there are complaints that expectations are too high in the practice, you may discover the real issue involves lack of positive feedback. Or maybe you need to shift duties around to better tailor a job to the team members’ strengths. By understanding what is behind the issues, you can lead proactively instead of simply reacting to what you think people are saying.
The other point to keep in mind when you encounter conflict is to bypass attacking the ideas that have been expressed. Countering emotion with emotion shuts down communication, and this prevents you from understanding what is really behind someone’s frustration. Consider how you feel when others attack your ideas compared to someone who listens. By refusing to elevate your emotions, you help diffuse the situation and create an environment for constructive communication.
So the next time you encounter conflict, remember to understand what is really behind the issues by taking time to listen. Avoid escalating emotions and you will become much more effective at addressing conflict.