In business there are often required skills and unspoken expectations required to perform the responsibilities that fall to administrative assistants. Usually, by default, conflict resolution is a skill expected of leaders, yet it should come as no surprise that such an unmerited expectation to solve “people” problems results in unmet skills and can lead to stress.
How do you constructively resolve conflicts in the office?
Office staff can be similar to a family dynamic. Apart from the members being hired and chosen based on skills and abilities that bring value to a team, behind those skills are personalities and baggage that may be incapable or dysfunctional in resolving conflict. With family, you continue to love, while at work it is easier to disconnect. Nevertheless, it does not mean there aren’t emotional triggers and catalyst behaviors that impact productivity.
Disengaged employees are the leading cause of lower morale and inhibited productivity. It would behoove directors of Human Resources and administrative staff to provide ongoing skills training in the areas of communication and conflict resolution. Education and intervention are the greatest assets in conflict prevention and resolve.
Whether it is a co-worker who steals your supplies, a personality clash or a nasty dispute about how to handle a project, here are some general tips for people who want to maintain peace in the office.
3 Keys to Understanding How to Navigate Toward Resolve:
- Everyone wants to be respected; however, respect is earned and should not be an exception for any reason. More on this follows.
- Everyone desires to be heard. Active listening skills are required.
- Everyone desires to be accepted for who they are.
What steps should you take to resolve the problem?
- Assess the problem and refrain from targeting the person creating the problem. The problem is dynamic, not personal. While impact may be very personal, there is a big difference in how we interact and perceive communication. When there is clarity of the end goal (resolve), there is a greater chance of diplomatic communication that will achieve resolution.
- Humanize the situation. The time invested returns great dividends in morale and productivity. Treat friends like family and family like friends; demonstrate love, respect, honor and uphold dignity.
- Provide information that adds value and demonstrates a favorable outcome. Use first person pronouns. For example, “Mary, I used to annoy the heck out of my sister by taking her hairbrush. At first it was an accident, but at some point after I knew it prompted a reaction, I started doing it on purpose for some reason. She would get annoyed and formed some very harsh opinions of me. We worked it out. I eventually learned that I really did not like her opinion of me. Eventually ‘my’ idea of what was humorous allowed me to realize I would rather have respect and kindness than a personal laugh when I knew the hurt of words spoken directly or behind my back. Mary, do you have siblings?”
As exhibited here, the ability to create a connection and relate creates engagement, and engagement increases the opportunity of achieved result when one is asked for help.
- Turn focus to office problem. “The reason I ask is that team dynamic in our office impacts productivity. Would you agree that you get more done when you feel great?”
- Present the problem with a proposed solution. “I would like to address a situation that has come up, and I think you can help me resolve this.” Focus on the problem and ask the person to contribute to the solution. People generally want to help.
For more on conflict resolution book Veronica Sites for you next event, author of Conflict Resolution Solutions, 2016.