(Editor’s Note: This series originally appeared in Workshifting, a blog which focuses on telework, online tools/resources, travel and technology. Many of the qualities that make for successful virtual work are rooted in the foundation of self-management. I hope you enjoy the series!)
In our last installment, we talked about the need to be problem solvers. But what happens if the “problem” is another person? Well, that’s the fourth quality of self-management: being able to handle personality conflicts.
In reality, we’re not going to get along with everyone. But we still need to be able to work with others and get our jobs done.
When we work in a traditional office environment, there’s always another person who can help us resolve conflicts. Whether it’s the boss or human resources, they can facilitate a conversation and hopefully assist in reaching a resolution.
One way to examine personal conflict situations is to take the person out of the equation and look at the circumstances creating the conflict. For example, is the conflict surrounding something that needs to be done? Maybe goals and objectives aren’t aligned? Or are there differences in the methods, research and analysis being used?
Start to resolve the conflict by talking with the other person about the situation. Let the other person know that having a good working relationship is important and ask for their help in trying to reach a solution everyone can live with.
In situations where the conflict is created because people can’t agree upon the data, research and information, the best way to solve it is with more research. For example, Jane and John are having a conflict. John believes the data from XYZ is correct and Jane believes the information from ABC is more accurate. This can create personal conflict in the form of distrust in each other or thinking the other person isn’t doing enough work. By engaging in more research, they can hopefully find a common research source they can both rely upon.
When the conflict surrounds goals and objectives, the way to resolve the conflict is with negotiation and compromise. Using our example above, John and Jane can’t agree on the desired outcome for the project. Both of them are frustrated and start to believe there are office politics or hidden agendas being used. By working together on a compromise, they are each able to have a say in the final goals of the project. Think win-win instead of a zero-sum game. If you’re thinking “politics” right now, you’ve pretty much got it.
Lastly, if the conflict is regarding the work that needs to be done then consensus is the means to conflict resolution. John wants to do ABC and Jane would prefer to do XYZ. John and Jane should use their research (from step one) and compromise (from step two) to create an outcome they can both live with. Notice I didn’t say they both needed to love it. That’s not the purpose of consensus. Consensus is about finding a solution all parties can live with.
As you can see, a key component to resolving conflict is understanding ourselves. When we can use the information we know about ourselves to step outside of conflict, we are able to begin a dialogue and work toward resolving the matter.