Conflict Resolution Tips





These conflict resolution tips are for anyone responsible for a team.

Any team experiences conflict – of one sort or another – always.

And when you are responsible for your team, you must manage such conflict in a creative way – otherwise, conflict that is not well managed can destroy dialogue, creativity, and quality decision-making.

If you try to avoid or suppress the conflict that exists within your team, trust won’t flourish in your team. And if trust is not part of your team’s life, your direct reports won’t speak up their truth – they won’t put on the table what is really going on inside their heads. And if your team doesn’t have a truly open communication environment, when your team doesn’t have frankness, real candor, it is very difficult that your team to make the best possible strategic decisions.

So, how can you – you, the person responsible for your team – manage conflict in a constructive way?

It is very easy.

All you have to do is to make a clear-cut distinction between cognitive conflict and affective conflict.

Cognitive conflict lives in the world of ideas.
Affective conflict lives in the world of feelings.

Cognitive conflict is ideological.
Affective conflict is personal.

Cognitive conflict is rational.
Affective conflict is emotional.

Cognitive conflict helps you seed breakthrough ideas.
Affective conflict helps you damage relationships.

Cognitive conflict is constructive.
Affective conflict is destructive.

With this clear-cut distinction, all you have to do is to try to never go into the affective conflict arena when your team finds itself in a heated discussion.

At the very same time however, as the person responsible for your team, you must make sure that your team’s heated discussion finds itself as close to the affective conflict arena as possible – but without going there at all (see graph below).

Why? Because the closest your conflictive discussion finds itself in such point, the more likely your conflict will turn out to be more constructive – and vice versa: The further away your conflictive discussion is from such point, the less likely your conflict will turn out to be constructive.

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To learn more about decision-making, see our managerial decision making process page.

Conflict resolution tips abound, but these tips go to the heart of constructive team conflict in any organizational setting.

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To keep on learning about the skills you need to manage the performance of your direct reports, go back to the previous page, or click here and continue reading in a sequential order.

To learn more about the skills you need to lead the performance of your entire organization, go to our Leadership Skills page.

If you would like your executives to improve their abilities to manage the performance of their teams (including our conflict resolution tips), through our speaking or consulting services, please, click on this link.

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