When we think of resolving conflict in the workplace, we may think of heated moments or tense confrontations. While those moments may draw the most attention, they are typically symptoms of tensions that have simmered for much longer. To more effectively support people in preventing future conflict, it helps to zoom out and take a broader perspective.
What is happening within the working relationships, and within these colleagues as individuals, to have created such a high level of tension? As we’ve discussed in prior posts, underlying motivational conflicts may be to blame; revealing those motivational disparities with a tool like the IDI Comparative Profile is one way to begin working to repair these deeper conflicts.
To put these insights to use, it is vital to look at what will happen after a conflict is – at least initially – resolved. When you are dealing with a conflict that is rooted in motivational differences, you will need to proceed with the understanding that you cannot fundamentally change who someone is. But with increased self-awareness, you can help people agree to new ways of working that can preserve a more harmonious relationship. While two people may never be wired the same way, they can commit to changes in behavior or working process that can help accommodate their colleagues’ differences, and minimize confusion, irritation, and ambiguity.
What can the participants commit to do differently in order to ensure a smoother relationship going forward? Longtime MRG network partner Uli Otto, who has extensive experience with coaching to resolve conflict, advocates for clear and specific agreements between participants. Here, she provides examples of what those agreements might look like.