Many studies show increases in the amount of time spent on managing conflict. This takes up more and more time of human resource professionals and other leaders. The solutions of these studies tend to focus on strategies and policies.
What is even more helpful is managing conflict close to the ground. This means seeing it early on. It means using some basic techniques. I have found one very effective. It is easy to learn and do.
Spotting Likely Conflicts
When managing conflicts, the first thing I do is assess personalities. This is because almost all other conflicts stem in some part from personality ones. These sour relationships. Poor relationships cause the bulk of performance problems.
I also assess job security and status. Even in high-growth firms, people can be anxious about these. For instance, hiring more people changes the “pecking order.” Growth can be a threat.
Signs of Stress
People do not need to be upset to show signs of stress. Stress can cause conflict. I find these as signs of stress when they differ from the person’s normal state:
- More or less talking
- Unusual forgetfulness, mistakes and errors
- Faster speech
- More or less engagement
For instance, introverts tend to talk more when stressed, extroverts less. In most cases, they behave almost the opposite. That is why we look at it from the person’s norm.
Technique for Managing Conflict
This technique works very well. It is based on the talking cure. By getting people to talk, we can “suck out the venom” causing angst. This lowers stress.