4 Ways To Turn Team Conflict Into Motivation & Inspiration For Your Employees

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Conflict within a team can be a good thing. In fact, it needs to be embraced as a source of transformation and growth.

The word "conflict" typically conjures negative images in your head. However, if understood and utilized well, it can be used as a mechanism for growth and transformation.

Every person is unique and comes with their own intelligence, ideas, knowledge, beliefs, and values. If they demonstrate their individuality, especially when dealing with an opposing point of view, conflicts are inevitable and bound to rise.

If you're a team leader, how do you handle conflict between team members? The way these conflicts are handled by each party is where the most attention needs to be focused.

When conflicts arise, your own reactions to and how you handle them are windows into yourself.

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Here are 4 ways to deal with team conflict that can lead to transformation and growth.

1. Know your team members' conflict management style.

Each person has an inherent conflict management style based on their personality type. This is how they resort to dealing with conflict, naturally.

Some people like to throw everything under the rug whenever there's a difference of opinion, while others like to deal with things head-on, maybe even coming across as too aggressive.

There's no good or bad conflict management style. What is not helpful is using the same style consistently by default without awareness. It's the situation that determines the conflict style that one should use.

2. Develop conflict resolution skills as a leader.

Conflict resolution is a key leadership skill. A team of people with a diverse set of predominant conflict-handling styles will thrive, innovate, and learn from each other more if the conflicts can be handled well.

The dual concern model of conflict resolution that assumes an individual's preferred method of dealing with conflict is based on two underlying dimensions: concern for self (assertiveness) and concern for others (empathy).

According to the model, people balance their concern for satisfying personal needs and interests with their concern for satisfying the needs and interests of others around them in different ways.

The intersection of the two dimensions ultimately guides them toward exhibiting different styles of conflict resolution.

The dual model identifies five conflict resolution strategies that individuals may fall back on, based on their dispositions — avoidance, yielding, competitive, cooperation, and conciliation.

Developed leaders know how to adapt their style depending on the people in front of them, the situation, and the optimum outcome they're seeking for effective team conflict resolution.

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3. Separate the people and emotions from the problem.

There's a story of a beautiful Buddhist woman who was angered by unsolicited passes made by a man every time she went to the market. One day it went too far and while filled with rage, she slapped him hard in the face.

Later, she regretted her harsh actions. Upset, she asked a senior monk what she should do about this hatred that this man brought out in her.

The monk replied that the next time something like this happens, pause, take a deep breath, fill your heart with love, and then slap the man hard because that's the only language he will understand.

Conflicts, if not resolved with maturity, can be damaging. If not handled effectively, they can quickly turn into personal dislike, teams can disintegrate, and also talent may be wasted as people disengage from their work and leave.

All this will lead to loss to the organization in terms of time, money, and effort.

Conflicts are best resolved by separating people and their emotions from the problem. Focusing on building mutual respect and understanding and appreciating the differences enable resolving conflict in a united and cooperative way.

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4. Practice active listening.

Listening to understand and not just to respond is also helpful when dealing with conflict.

If you're ever in a situation where you need to resolve the conflict between people on your team, you can approach this in the following way.

Bring the parties together to hash out the issue. Let them know that you're there to help come up with a mutually beneficial resolution and the focus will be on the problem, not the people involved.

Encourage listening carefully to each other's viewpoint and use active listening skills, so that everyone feels heard. Be open and clear about the facts upfront then work cohesively to agree on a resolution.

Working your way through a conflict can make a team stronger and more synergized.

It's helpful for the team to have a forum to openly discuss not only individual dominant conflict styles but also aspirations, motivations, and personality types.

This leads to mature, productive, and collaborative teams.

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Bhavna Dalal is a master certified executive coach MCC ICF, speaker, and author of "Checkmate Office Politics" who helps people develop their leadership skills, such as executive presence, strategic thinking, influencing, and networking. To learn more about her work, visit her website or follow her on LinkedIn.

This article was originally published at Forbes India. Reprinted with permission from the author.