Collaboration to Resolve Conflict
While training "Dealing with Difficult People" for Pryor Learning Solutions this past month, I have had many discussions with students on how soft skill development is critical to be a successful leader of productive teams. Soft skills, which include positive and proactive communication, a focus on teamwork and a problem-solving mindset, help us work through conflicts that are created by differences in people's values, beliefs, needs and communication styles. This is what we discuss and practice during this class and end with students creating an action plan to improve their communication skills to work on resolving conflict.
We discuss how to turn destructive or dysfunctional conflict into constructive or functional conflict by identifying task vs. relational issues and communicating to others in the style that they use and in a way that the other would want to be treated. This is using the Platinum Rule of doing unto others as they would be done unto, instead of the Golden Rule of doing unto others as you would have done to yourself. When leaders try to understand followers' perspectives, they create relational motivation for teams to accomplish tasks.
To keep conversations constructive when dealing with emotions, leaders should manage emotions in conversations, their own and that of others, to calm down destructive behaviors and convert conversations into problem-solving efforts. This is using a relational approach to accomplish tasks, dealing with human emotions to constructively communicate all of one's perspective, to enable working toward conflict resolution.
Once different perspectives are communicated and understood, common goals and interests can be identified to develop a path toward problem-solving that focuses on mutual gain and positive outcomes. Failure to understand another's perspective or to treat someone as they want to be treated, requires a leader's apology or empathy to get on common ground with followers. Shared goals enable the leader to lead by motivating others to want to do what needs to be done, instead of managing them without motivation, therefore, not creating followers that you can depend on to get work done.