The Cost of Conflict and How To Avoid It In Business

listen-more-talk-lessConflict is just a part of life whether its within the family, friends or in your business but conflict can be unavoidable (unfortunately).  Conflicts are stressful, however realise that they offer a significant chance to grow and improve both as an individual and as a business owner. No matter how large or small the issue of conflict is, they are disrupting and potentially damaging.

Have you ever been approached by someone with an issue they wish to resolve with you but the persons approach is hostile before you can determine your action? We are not all perfect in every aspect of our lives but we can determine the outcome through the way we handle the issue of conflict.

I have found one of the best initial strategies is to simply repeat their issue back to them to clarifiy what the real issue is, but it can also give the other party a moment to consider and often turn the flames down.

But what if you are actually at fault? Do you turn on your best Fawlty Towers impersonation and get aggressive, abusive and show the other person the door!  Of course not, but I’m sure sometimes you would like to. That is a sure fire way of starting a war.  It is preferrable that you maintain your dinity and admit there was an issue, apologise once (and only once so you don’t reinforce the problem) and then seek to rectify whatever the problem is. Since you have already repeated their request earlier on, then you are both on the same understanding and communication is open. Ask the other person what resolution they are seeking?  What outcome are they asking for? Do they seek a refund? Do they want compensation? Do they want something done again? Do they want to speak to someone else?  Do they just want to abuse you and leave?

It is important to remain calm during this time and be aware of your body language together with the tone of your voice. Keep passive and a quieter tone of voice – no-one is going to be receptive to you if you are shouting. And whatever happens, don’t make the issue personal. It is usually best to deflect the blame onto the third party as something beyond your control to avoid making it personal, maybe you are just following company policy or perhaps the initial instructions were unclear. In many cases, the other party simply wants to be heard and have their opinion validated. Don’t interrupt them during their moment of explanation.

Every business relies on the other business. These may be employees, suppliers or customers. Sometimes a tough win can upset the important business relationship.

Financial disputes often lead to a solution being found throught he courts if they are not settled early in the dispute. Even if you win a court battle, it will leave you out of pocket for lost time and productivity. Avoid going to court if possible.

Focus on the issue, not on the other person. Do not lose sight of why the conflict arose in the first place and then ensure steps are taken to prevent a re-occurance in your business or personal life.

Even a small conflict can result in stress and an ill feeling towards the other party.  Larger conflicts can lead to lost money, lost business and even lost friendships.  Try to avoid conflicts in the first place and remember to keep a level head when managing conflict. It is easy to get drawn into personal insults but this will not help you find a resolution. If they appears to be no resolution, perhaps you consider a mediator as a neutrel third party to sort out the issue and avoid the war.