How to Diffuse Workplace Conflict and Create Consensus
I recently conducted a workshop on a highly emotional topic: humans in the workplace. After all, every human being—employees and bosses—shows up for work accompanied by their unique drives, triggers, and tendencies. All things considered, it’s a wonder we get any work done at all.
My message to the attendees may be of value to you, too. As your company leader, it’s your job to boost productivity, which means it’s also your job to diffuse workplace conflicts and create consensus, keeping your teamed focused on achieving your goals.
There are many theories on how to accomplish this. Based on what I’ve learned from my small business peer groups and my own experience as a CEO, I’ve identified up four main strategies for dealing with difficult people and creating an emotionally-healthy, productive workplace. I’ve summarized these briefly below, and you can download my complete PowerPoint presentation.
Do you know what makes you tick? Do you know what ticks you off? The best managers are those who are aware of their emotions but not enslaved by them.
Good managers typically have a high Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ)—that is, a high level of self-awareness regarding their emotional reactions and the emotions of others. Self-awareness is the first step toward self-management, the conscious management of one’s behavior.
To raise your EQ, check out Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves.
Good managers also have good social awareness. They not only pick up on other people’s emotions but know why they act the way they do. More and more employers are using personality assessment programs to better understand how their employees think.
One program I like is the DiSC® personality assessment system. DiSC is based on a four-part model of human behavior: the Dominant, Influencing, Steady, and Compliant traits. The DiSC test measures patterns of behavior, and then creates a personality profile that reflects an employee’s strengths, weaknesses, and drives.
Use Your Understanding to Manage Behavior
The whole point of understanding your emotions is that it will allow you to manage your behavior consciously and positively, as opposed to reacting emotionally in the moment.
The whole point of understanding the emotions of others is that it will allow you to behave in a manner that will get the desired response from others. In the workplace, this often comes down to diffusing conflict and creating consensus among employees.
Remember the old adage about counting to 10 when you’re angry? Turns out, it’s right on target.
For more about managing behavior, read Dealing with People You Can’t Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at their Worst by Dr. Rick Brinkman and Dr. Rick Kirschner.
Use Your Understanding to Hire Wisely
You can also apply these principals to make more successful hires. Instead of hiring new employees on the basis of a resume, look for people whose values and communication styles are harmonious with your own. Do they hold themselves accountable? Will they “get” your company culture?
If you’re seriously interested in a candidate, you can use a personality assessment to see if they’d make a good match for the position and your company. By choosing the right people, you can proactively diffuse conflict before it happens and create consensus from the get-go. Which means you’ll have to do a little less of the other three strategies further down the road.
Biography: Ray Silverstein is president of PRO, President’s Resource Organization, a network of entrepreneurial peer advisory groups in Phoenix and Chicago. He is author of “The Best Secrets of Great Small Businesses,” and “The Small Business Survival Guide.” You can reach Ray at 312-593-5133 or firstname.lastname@example.org