10 Steps for Diffusing Conflict

Date: Wednesday, 08 April 2015

10-steps-for-diffusing-conflictWinter seems to bring out the worst in people – we are tired, possibly have a cold or a flu bug, feel more re-active and less tolerant, and minor incidents push our buttons.

Our workplaces stress the importance of ‘getting along’ and ‘working as a team’ yet in reality it’s not that easy. Especially if there are ‘working style’ differences which can impact on how we deal with difficult situations.  Conflict is part of human nature. At best it’s disruptive. At worst it’s destructive. 

Most people find dealing with difficult people or situations uncomfortable and stressful. Here are 10 steps you can use to diffuse conflict before a situation escalates into a major problem:

1. Deal with issues as they arise before they become major ‘roadblocks’.

It’s much easier to deal with issues while the details are fresh and not distorted by perceptions, egos or past experiences. 

2. Choose your timing and a neutral location to raise the issue/problem.

Avoid personal power-places like offices or work stations. Instead have the discussion in a neutral area like a boardroom or café.

3. Start with “You may not be aware” and then outline the situation as you see it.

Deal with one issue at a time. You are less likely to get willing co-operation if you overload the situation with past issues.

4. Watch your choice of words, tone and body language.

Avoid negative trigger words like “you always” “you never”, keep your voice tone even and your body language open and relaxed. 

5. Restrict your comments to facts, not personality.

Stick to the facts.  Use “What, When, How, Why, Who” to guide the discussion. 

6. Be open and actively listen to the other person’s point-of-view.

Be mindful and give the other person your full attention.

7. Focus the other person on achieving win/win outcomes.

Discuss benefits of resolving the issue. Suggest a solution or ask for a solution which would suit both parties. 

8. Ask clarifying questions to ensure there is no miscommunication.

At best of times we all have selective listening. Asking questions and paraphrasing will ensure there is no miscommunication.

9. Focus on the big picture and be willing to compromise.

You may have to give a little to get the outcome you’re looking for.

10. Agree on a solution and Action Plan – where to from here?

Gain agreement on “Where to from here?” and set an action plan which includes a timeline for reviewing progress.

When dealing with difficult people and situations it’s important to deal with facts and keep emotions and personality differences out of it. Deal with one issue at a time and look to create a workable solution. 

Our Dealing with Difficult People & Situations course is one of our most sought after training programmes. This course provides a number of step-by-step strategies which will enable you to deal with conflict in the workplace in a professional manner, and to create workable outcomes in difficult situations. 

Contact us to book for the next course.