6 Tips for Upping Your Conflict Resolution Skills

A Stanford University survey by The Miles Group showed that 43% of CEOs said they want to develop their conflict management skills more than any other skillset. As the CEO of Small Business Arbitration Center—an organization that helps resolve small business disputes—I’m surprised that number is not higher.

Most CEOs understand how to make their business operation run smoothly, but few know how to work out a conflict through collaboration or compromise, especially when it involves their leaders.

“When trying to resolve conflict, brainstorm on the various ways one could look at a situation.”

Conflict resolution with strong employees is truly a graceful art, but here are 6 steps that can be used in the C-Suite to minimize conflict in the ranks.

1)  Let yourself be influenced. When it makes sense for business, let others influence your decision or the way you see something. Then, give them the credit for the idea. Everyone wants to feel they are part of the team and appreciated. They will work harder and have a more positive attitude in the face of conflict when they do.

2)  Conduct face saving. When you are giving constructive criticism, start with what they did do well or a quality about them that you appreciate. People internalize negative feedback to mean something about them personally, and that will only increase conflict in your office.

3)  Choose your perspective. There are many perspectives for any given situation. When trying to resolve conflict, brainstorm on the various ways one could look at a situation, then choose the situation that works best for your business or team. Your default perspective is just that—a default. There may be a more powerful way to see it.

4)  Discord produces new ideas. If you are afraid of conflict, or if you think of conflict as something you will crush with a final decision, you are likely to be missing your access to the incubator of new ideas and new paradigms. Businesses are built on the next great idea, and it often comes from someone who sees it differently than the rest. Listen to the discontent, and see what gold mine may come from there.

Conflict resolution should be a positive, constructive process. Follow these guidelines and everyone will be working together to find solutions.

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Elizabeth Clemants is the Founder and CEO of Planning Change; a training organization whose mission is to educate and empower individuals to affect meaningful change through the thoughtful practice of conflict resolution in their lives and the world around them.

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