by Monika Sziron, Ph.D.
BOKEH STOCK/ Shutterstock
Workplace conflicts come in all shapes and sizes, big, small, petty, serious, involve many people or just two. Taking some time to rethink about your own relationship with conflict can be a fulfilling professional reflection. Do you avoid conflict? Do you never speak up when conflict arises? Do you speak up often when conflict arises? Who do you go to in your office or at home when conflict arises in your workplace? Who come to you when they have a workplace conflict?
The Realities of Conflict
There are many different views and perspectives in one office. Avoiding conflict can repress those varying views. If disagreement occurs and one party stays silent out of fear of igniting conflict, the silent party’s views can often become repressed.
Griffith shares, “I think the main thing is there’s a tendency to avoid it. A tendency to not want to engage. But that’s not the healthiest approach.”
“…we should embrace conflict because we can learn from it. We should see the opportunity to work through to find good outcomes, because conflict often represents the reality that we just have different views, but we also have good things to contribute in whatever we’re talking about.”
Don’t Let Conflict Linger
When you sense there is conflict on the horizon, there is not effective communication, or team productivity is impacted, address the elephant.
Griffith says, “…we let things linger when early on we could address them in a more productive fashion.”
If you are outside of the conflict but notice it negatively impacting your coworkers, you might be the mediator your office needs. Griffith advises that if you offer to help you can start with questions like, “What can I do to help you go back to your colleague to work it out?” “Would it be helpful for me to help in mediation or other sort of responses?” “What’s helpful to you?”
Are You the Mediator Your Office Needs?
Mediators do not have to be in leadership positions or have a formal title.
Griffith shares, “One thing I want people to realize is that if you help others work through conflict situations, and if your general intent is to support them both and not take a side, even if you haven’t thought through formally what that means as a neutral [party], then I suggest you’re a mediator.”
“I just think a lot of us in a lot of roles across the institution, can fulfill that kind of mediator role in some way to help others work through the conflict situation.”
For more on workplace conflict, check out Episode 25 of The HigherEdJobs Podcast below with guest Daniel Griffith.
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