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6 Tips for Leading Through Conflict

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How to Reduce Conflict in the Workplace

As a manager, you can’t take on everybody’s problems.

In the swirl of information and interactions, conflict will bubble and flare up, driven by disagreements, personal grievances, or misunderstandings. But getting drawn in doesn’t help others manage the conflict — nor does trying to figure out all the answers yourself.

So what can leaders do to manage conflict and improve a situation? First, to reduce conflict, try these behaviors.

3 Behaviors for Reducing Conflict

  • Practice reflective thinking. Reflective thinking means weighing the pros and cons of the particular situation. Noting possible points you want to make before the conversation can help you focus on remaining open, listening without interrupting, or showing anger.
  • Delay responding. This involves calling a time-out to let the situation calm. Delaying responding does not mean avoiding or ignoring the conflict — it just means taking a break so that people are better able to listen to one another. During a time-out, replace stressful thoughts with calm, reassuring ones.
  • Commit to “adapting behavior.” Adapting behavior means staying flexible and trying to make the best out of the situation. Not every conflict can be solved in a totally satisfactory manner, but if you go into the conversation with an adaptable mindset, you’ll more easily be able to make adjustments to prevent problems in the future.

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