It starts in the morning with the kids before you go to work, then kicks into second gear with your co-workers or your boss, and finally culminates at home with your spouse and children. It’s conflict, and it doesn’t have to be a part of your daily life, according to Tim Scudder, CEO of an international firm that prepares top companies and their executives on how to better deal with the conflict in the workplace.
He said that recent research suggests that the top reason why people leave their jobs is because of a poor relationship with their immediate supervisors. Conflict, both at work and at home, can actually be an opportunity to resolve long-standing issues and help people lead more fulfilling and productive lives. The secret is understanding the five keys to conflict, and how to move them forward toward the final step – resolution.
"The key to managing conflict isn’t just about pushing them to resolution, but also to learn how to have nicer conflicts," said Scudder, CEO of Personal Strengths USA and co-author of Have a Nice Conflict: A Story of Finding Success and Satisfaction in the Most Unlikely Places (www.haveaniceconflict.com). "As one set of conflicts is resolved, others will take their place, so it’s important to learn how to make conflicts productive and positive experiences, instead of allowing them to distract us from our goals and disrupt our lives."
Scudder’s five keys to conflict include:
- Anticipate -- Anticipating conflict starts with knowing who you’re dealing with. Then ask yourself how various people might view the same situation differently. When two or more people see things differently, there is the potential for conflict. If you can figure that out, you have a good shot at steering clear of it.
- Prevent -- Preventing conflict is really all about the deliberate, appropriate use of behavior in your relationships. A well-chosen behavior on your part can prevent conflict with another person. But you need to prevent conflict in yourself sometimes too, and that might have more to do with choosing your perceptions than choosing your behaviors.
- Identify – There are three basic approaches in conflict: rising to the challenge, cautiously withdrawing, or wanting to keep the peace. When you can identify these approaches in yourself or others, you are empowered to handle the situation more productively.
- Manage -- Managing conflict has two components: managing yourself and managing the relationship. Managing conflict is about creating the conditions and empowering them to manage themselves out of the emotional state of conflict. It’s also about managing yourself out. Managing yourself in conflict can be as easy as taking some time to see things differently.
- Resolve -- To create movement toward resolution we need to show the other person a path back to feeling good about themselves. When they feel good about themselves, they are less likely to feel threatened and are free to move toward a compromise and resolution.
"Unresolved or poorly managed conflict costs companies is ways they can’t even calculate," he added. "Lost institutional memory, low productivity, bad morale, high turnover all cost real companies real dollars. On the other hand, well-managed conflict can not only prevent all those losses, but it can also promote higher productivity and a stronger bottom line. So, the end result will not only be fewer conflicts, but also nicer ones with positive results."
About Tim Scudder
Tim Scudder, CPA is the President of Personal Strengths Publishing, Inc. Since 1995, he has focused on building the organization to help clients improve the quality of their relationships. He has consulted with the organization development, training, and human resources departments of many corporate, government, military, education and not-for-profit organizations. He is the author of Have a Nice Conflict and several experiential training programs including: SDI Certification and Becoming a Leader We Need with Strategic Intelligence (with Michael Maccoby). He is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Human and Organizational Systems at Fielding Graduate University.