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American Association for Physician Leadership
American Association for Physician Leadership

Operations and Policy

What Are Some Approaches for Managing Conflict in the Workplace?

Harvard Business Review


What Are Some Approaches for Managing Conflict in the Workplace? - Banner Image

Summary:

Understanding your style - and your counterpart’s - is the key to resolution. Here are five tips to begin addressing the issue.





Understanding your style — and your counterpart’s — is the key to resolution. Here are five tips to begin addressing the issue.

When it comes to conflict, most of us have a default approach: We tend to either avoid it or seek it out. If you are dealing with a disagreement, it’s useful to know what your natural tendency is and to put some thought into the other person’s conflict style.

Here are a few ways to manage conflict:

ASSESS YOUR COUNTERPART'S CONFLICT STYLE: Look for patterns in his behavior and tactfully ask how he or she usually handles disagreements. You can also get input from trusted colleagues about your colleague’s style.

IF YOU’RE BOTH CONFLICT AVOIDERS: Take the lead. Say directly, “I know neither of us likes conflict, but instead of ignoring the problem, what can we do about it?” Do your best to draw the other person out in a sensitive, thoughtful way and fight your natural instinct to shy away if things get tough.

IF YOU’RE BOTH CONFLICT SEEKERS: Prepare yourself for the conversation. Knowing that you’re both likely to feel impatient, schedule your discussion in a way that allows you to take breaks. Pause the discussion whenever things get too heated.

IF YOU’RE A SEEKER AND YOUR COUNTERPART IS AN AVOIDER: Ask the other person to actively participate in the conversation. He or she should not hide opinions, and you should refrain from being a bully. Try to be patient.

IF YOU’RE AN AVOIDER AND YOUR COUNTERPART IS A SEEKER: Explicitly ask for what you need. Earn the seeker’s respect by being direct about what you need from him or her, be it patience or a less-aggressive tone of voice.

Copyright 2017 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

Harvard Business Review

Harvard Business Publishing (HBP) was founded in 1994 as a not-for-profit, wholly-owned subsidiary of Harvard University, reporting into Harvard Business School . Our mission is to improve the practice of management in a changing world. This mission influences how we approach what we do here and what we believe is important.

With approximately 450 employees, primarily based in Boston, with offices in New York City, India, and the United Kingdom, Harvard Business Publishing serves as a bridge between academia and enterprises around the globe through its publications and multiple platforms for content delivery, and its reach into three markets: academic, corporate, and individual managers. Harvard Business Publishing has a conventional governance structure comprising a Board of Directors , an internal Executive Committee , and Business Unit Directors.



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