How To Deal With Conflict In The Workplace (And At Home)

How To Deal With Conflict In The Workplace (And At Home)

Managing conflict in the workplace

Dealing with difficult people and conflict in the workplace are serious issues that people usually point to when they are unhappy in their work.  A cycle of conflict undermines any positive aspects of the job and frequently causes serious stress and disfunction, at work or even in an individual’s private life.

How To Deal With Conflict In The Workplace (And At Home)

In this video Dr Bill Crawford considers the underlying issues that are occurring when there is conflict between people.  It makes so much sense, whether the conflict is at work or at home.

What Are The Underlying Causes

In summary, we must recognise that there are underlying causes for the cycle of conflict and the best management is to tap into the other person’s motivation so that they hear what you are saying.

If you consider how you would describe someone which whom you have conflict, you would probably realise that from their perspective you are exhibiting the same characteristics. This is because most of us react to the conflict in a negative way, perhaps showing defensive, frustrating behaviours, or being withdrawn and confused.

Self-perpetuating Cycle of Conflict

This becomes a self-perpetuating cycle of conflict, as they behave in a conflicting manner and we react in our own style, which is conflicting their eyes.  Communication ceases.  They no longer listen to you and in their eyes you are the difficult person, not them!

This cycle of conflict in the workplace is very stressful, almost contagious. You can carry the negative emotions on to your next encounter.  This may cause other problems at work. In many cases this also becomes a relationship or family problem. The emotions of the conflict situation can be carried with us into our private lives. You may find yourself reacting negatively in a completely different environment. Resentment leading to a cycle of conflict between partners is not uncommon when making the transition to retirement, especially if the partners are not seeking the same type of lifestyle.

Dr Campbell quotes Malachy McCourt “Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

Quotation: Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for someone else to die.

How Can You Escape The Cycle Of Conflict

He suggests we find a way to escape the cycle of conflict.

If you try to force the person to change you are actually motivating them to resist us even more, or resent us, or both. The example he uses is “the lesson of the fist”.  If one person has their fist tightly clenched and your task is to get them to unclench that fist, just about the only thing that works is to give them a powerful reason, a motivation, to open their fist.

“Problems can’t be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” Einstein

This concept can be used to overcome a conflict situation. Find the person’s internal motivation so they want what you offer.  

Our beliefs and interpretations create our expectations. In turn our expectations create our emotions, our emotions create our behaviours, our behaviours reinforce our beliefs and our beliefs underlie any cycle of conflict in which we are engaged.

Every one of us has times when we are the difficult person, whether we realise it or not, so dealing with acutely difficult people at times is just a part of life.

Dealing With A Chronically Difficult Person

It is when you are dealing with a chronically difficult person, someone who is notoriously difficult to deal with, that you need to realise that their belief system suggests to them that people are out to get them and that they are inheritantly flawed in some way.  By reinforcing these negative beliefs we are reinforcing their expectations, their behaviours and their beliefs.  That is not going to get them to change.

What are you doing in your life, at work or at home, to perpetuate cycles of conflict?  What can you do to find out the motivations which might break these cycles?

So what can you do to avoid this cycle of conflict?  The other 3 videos in this series are easily found on YouTube if you’d like to find out more about avoid the cycle of conflict. Meanwhile this video is great food for thought.

Republished by Jenni Proctor in March 2019

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Read BoomersNextStep’s tips on Finding Success: How to Balance Work and Personal Life

Managing Conflict at Work: Understanding and Resolving Conflict for Productive Working Relationships

Resolving Conflicts at Work: Ten Strategies for Everyone on the Job, Third Edition

It’s All Your Fault at Work!: Managing Narcissists and Other High-Conflict People

Jenni Proctor