Conflict is inevitable in any human endeavor.
Whether it be starting a marriage or starting a business, conflict is part of the process, and workplace conflict resolution is part of the process of growth and healthy change. Denial, avoidance, and domination are common responses to conflict which often make the conflict last longer, become more serious in nature, or go underground.
The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names, goes the Chinese proverb. Conflict is always about change. In my work with conflict resolution I have found that chronic conflict is really resistance to change. Change in behavior, attitude, or relationship, can be the spark that ignites a chain reaction in the organization. Conflict must be resolved before such change is possible. Recognizing the need for outside help can be the first important step in the change.
Signs of the need for outside help are usually the following:
- Efforts to resolve the conflict have failed.
- Efforts to resolve the conflict have led to new problems.
- Attitudes of pessimism about solving the problem are common.
- Nobody brings up the problem anymore unless it is absolutely necessary.
These common signs of stuckness mean that it is time for a new perspective.
The heart of team conflict resolution is communication. It is a process which requires in-depth and skillful assessment of the problem, identification and discovery of a range of options for resolving the problems, and implementing action steps to support the necessary change. In short, figure out what the problem is, figure out what can be done about it, and then do it.