16 January 2023
Being in conflict can feel like a lonely place, particularly workplace conflict. The individual feels lonely because it’s difficult to understand the dynamics being played out. ‘Why can’t the other person just see it from my perspective?’ Often the situation escalates; you, and everyone else, become unable to speak about ‘it’.
The impact of not dealing with an issue can be significant. It undoubtedly affects other people and the business. Often people in conflict are unaware of the ripple effect of their dispute.
Don’t ever assume your conflict is happening in isolation. It will be impacting your colleagues. It is your responsibility to resolve the problem so you don’t make other people’s lives miserable. Often the situation gets worse because everyone else around you doesn’t want to bring ‘it’ up for fear of exacerbating the problem. No one wants to talk about the elephant in the room.
When I ask leaders in conflict what impact the disagreement is having on the wider organisation, the response is often ‘I’d not even thought of that’. Well, you need to! This is destructive conflict, not creative conflict. People assume they are keeping the conflict under wraps and ‘managing it’. Just because colleagues aren’t talking about it, doesn’t mean that they are unaware. It’s just that they will be keeping quiet for fear of reprisal, or being forced to take sides. They then bury their head in the sand, try and stay neutral all of which takes energy and effort which should be channelled into the business, not the conflict. As a result of avoiding the difficult conversations, the business suffers.
That’s where team mediation comes in.
In team mediation those in conflict take responsibility for their actions and resolve issues so that they have strategies in place to stop ‘it’ escalating. The conflict is often not with the whole team, but with two team members needing to resolve their differences.
Unresolved conflict is a real problem for the business. It is important that the individuals involved sit down and resolve things for the sake of others and the business. If the mediation takes place with just the two people directly in conflict, the wider team need to be made aware of what is agreed and how other team members can support.
People in conflict find it difficult to see a way through. If you try and resolve conflict within the team emotions can become heightened. The problem is that ‘it’ becomes personal. Once people can get beyond the personal bit, the tensions often lesson. However, it’s very hard to do that without external skilled support. With a skilled mediator the issues can be worked on and resolved in a short space of time. Identifying one strategy to manage a particular situation is often all that’s needed. But, in order to do that people have to sit down, work out what the issue is and agree on one thing they’re going to do to help each other manage it.
If this scenario of people in conflict resonates, you must face it. If not for your own wellbeing, then for the wellbeing of the people who work with you and the business as a whole. ‘It’ won’t go away.
With a fresh pair of eyes and a safe pair of hands things can be resolved. As a mediator, it’s safe for me to ask the questions that need to be asked because I’m impartial and emotionally detached. I manage the tension and encourage conversation with the aim of reaching a resolution.
Call me, I can help!