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Published on January 28, 2021

The Most Effective Strategy To Resolve Conflict At Work

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The Most Effective Strategy To Resolve Conflict At Work

Let’s face it, we’ve all been there—and by “there,” I’m talking about being in an uncomfortable situation at work. Whether you’re smack dab in the middle of it or on the sidelines watching it unfold, it’s rarely easy to manage. That is, of course, until now! That’s because after over two decades of working in different departments for large organizations—and now running my own company—I’ve been exposed to my fair share of workplace conflicts, and I’ve learned the most effective strategy to resolve them effectively (but not without my own fair share of mistakes!).

Let’s start by talking about a few of the reasons why workplace conflict exists. It could be because you work in a highly competitive environment. Competition brings out the worst in us sometimes because we all want to win. So, if you work in a place (especially in sales) that ranks success based on performance, it’s super easy for conflict to arise.

Maybe you work in a place where you have blatant favoritism going on.[1] I’ve seen this scenario unfold a few times in my career. An example is when a manager assigns their favorite person or people the best performing accounts and gives the underperforming accounts to other team members, therefore, stacking the odds against some people. Unless it’s resolved in a way that benefits everyone, it can go horribly wrong.

Finally, you could be in a workplace situation that is unstable—especially right now in the current climate. Lots of companies are streamlining operations to be able to keep the doors open, simply knowing that information can cause stress and overwhelm employees, making the environment difficult to manage.

The good news here is that none of the above scenarios are impossible to fix. In fact, if you’ve got tools and resources to address them, you may even be able to head them off at the pass. That’s what good leadership is all about. Being able to “read the room” and anticipate situations are helpful traits to have when you’re the one possibly having to address and resolve the conflict.

Leaders are not just heads of companies, CEOs, or people in supervisory roles. We all have leadership qualities and responsibilities in our own lives. Whether it’s being the head of your household or a team member at work—each of us has a responsibility to step up and be a leader in different situations. When we’re talking about resolving conflict at work and you have a strategy to resolve or help fix it, consider yourself a leader.

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Let’s just say you have a conflict at work, and you want to know the best way to approach it to find an amicable resolution. I’ve got an idea for you.

Here is a 3-step strategy to resolve conflict at work.

Step 1: Identify the Problem

What’s the actual issue? There are multiple sides to every story based on the number of people involved in the situation. The first thing you need to do is get to the bottom of the problem. Uncovering the root cause of the issue is your main goal during this phase.

Put on your investigator hat and do some digging. Look through your email to see if you can pinpoint a problem. If you’ve been documenting the issue, revisit your notes, and ask your peers for their observations. You won’t be able to resolve the conflict without the whole puzzle being put together. It might take a little time, but it’s better to have all the information (facts). this way you can come to an educated resolution.

Pro tip: while you’re in this phase, make sure you’re reviewing all of the information you’re receiving with an open mind. Try your best to not form any solid opinions until you have all the information you need. It’s not easy to keep emotions out of situations, especially if you’re directly involved. So, do your best to keep it professional and under wraps. If too many people catch wind of what you’re up to, they might want to join in on a discussion they aren’t a direct part of.

Once you feel like you’ve got your information gathered, create a timeline or outline of the events that caused the conflict. This way, when you move on to step number two, you’re ready with your data.

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Step 2: Communicate

Communication is an art form. Being a good communicator takes work and commitment to continue learning. Communication is not just about talking, it’s also about body language, listening, and how you present yourself through your online tools such as email and social media.

Anyone can talk—but how many of us can truly listen and observe?

One of the first things we want to do when we find ourselves in a conflict situation is to immediately react. We want to say all the things or fire off an email that’s full of accusations and defense. That’s one of the worst things you can do—not only because words are important and can be hurtful but because by reacting, you haven’t had the time to consider the entire situation.

It’s best to step away from doing something you may regret later. That’s why when you’re in the communication phase of conflict resolution, your response to statements and situations should be thoughtful and professional.

A lot of disagreements can be resolved more smoothly simply by the way the issue is addressed. Communicating effectively to your peers and teams is a sign of strong leadership.

When the time comes for you to address the data and information you gathered while identifying the problem, bring your level head, open mind, and thoughtful heart to the conversation. Explain your observations or your own experience of the situation in a way that is straightforward, concise, and informational.

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Allow others to do the same and really listen to what they are saying. When you take the time to listen, you may be able to uncover additional information. Effective communication is a key strategy in resolving conflict work.

Pro tip: A thoughtful response goes longer than an angry reaction. As the saying goes, “you catch a lot more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”

After you’ve had your thorough discussions with the involved parties and everyone has had an opportunity to express themselves, it’s time to move on and resolve the conflict.

Step 3: Resolve It!

It probably won’t happen overnight, but it can happen if you can find a way to agree and move past the situation. It’s not always easy to do, but it’s not impossible.

Think of a time when you’ve been able to successfully overcome a conflict in your life—what did it take to get to a resolution?

Sometimes, a handshake is enough to fix the problem. But if it’s bigger than that, it requires a plan. Working together with your peers to create a goal-oriented resolution is one of the best ways to stay on task, focused, and organized.

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Remember when you were a little kid and your mom made you apologize on the playground after you had an altercation with a friend? Well, this is similar. Begin every resolution with an acknowledgment of your involvement and an apology (even if you think it’s not warranted).

I can’t tell you how much smoother the resolution process goes when you have the ability to forgive and forget it. Release the anger, find the learning opportunity, express gratitude for the growth, and apologize for your part. Doing all of those things is really putting on your big people pants and showing your peers that you’re willing to move forward.

When you work together to take action, you ultimately have a clean slate in front of you with a lot of opportunities to create change. If you’re in an environment that has antiquated systems, policies, and procedures, it could be a good time to revisit those things and create new ones.

Pro tip: Not all conflicts are bad, and most can be resolved with some good old-fashioned teamwork and commitment to success.

Final Thoughts

It’s not easy resolving conflict, especially when you feel like you’re the one getting the short end of the stick. But trust me, when you approach the situation using this strategy to resolve conflict at work, you will have the ability to look at conflicts from different perspectives, which ultimately results in personal and professional growth.

More Articles About Strategies to Resolve Conflict at Work

Featured photo credit: You X Ventures via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Krista Rizzo, CPC

Transformational Life Coach, TEDx Speaker, Author & Founder

The Most Effective Strategy To Resolve Conflict At Work How to Be a Good Listener (And a Better Communicator) How To Express Yourself Authentically And Confidently

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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