5 Ways Leaders Should Handle Conflict With the People They Work With

Whether that be in the workplace or a school project, misunderstandings and conflicts within a team are inevitable. It is not all the time when group or team members can always agree to one idea and method – but as a leader, it is your job to create a solution that can allow clashing minds to meet halfway and still get the required job done right on time.

Leading a group and being a mediator at the same time is no easy task – and you might think of giving up due to frustration. It is especially harder if you are unlucky enough to have really difficult people in the team, but you can try your best to go around that by:

1. Diffuse tensions as early as possible.

Small tensions, when constantly ignored and set aside, will not fix the situation or make them go away. In fact, as small conflicts and tensions go unresolved over time, it can build-up negative feelings within the team and once it blows up, the end result would not be pretty.

As a leader, you should keep a sharp eye on such tensions – even if they seem to be small and ignorable as of the moment. This includes disagreements in the method, deadlines, and even styles and designs of the output. It could also include basic misunderstanding or miscommunication between two members, or between yourself and some members of your team.

2. Choose your battles.

Although you have to diffuse tensions the moment they come up, this does not automatically mean that you should interfere with every little conflict and tension that arises within the team. You should learn to choose your battles, and save up your energy on more important and crucial problems.

If the tension involves a personal matter between two or more members, just leave that for them to sort out. It is best to interfere only when these personal tensions affect their professional performance and overall output.

3. Avoid favoritism or constantly comparing one member after another.

Showing favoritism and constantly praising another member while putting down all the others can easily brew tension after tension within the team. Of course, you still need to commend your team’s hard work, but don’t do it in such a way that the others will feel totally useless because you think only one or two of them excelled the most. Remember that each and every member of the team had something to contribute, and the overall output is a result of collective effort.

4. Always encourage healthy communication.

One way to avoid small or big tensions is to teach your members to communicate healthily and effectively. Most of us are prone to become passive-aggressive when problems and misunderstandings are left unsaid, that’s why it is best to practice healthy communication.

Start with a weekly meeting or an honest and candid discussion with the team to help them open up to whatever positive and negative thoughts and emotions they might have towards you and the rest of the team members.

5. Don’t forget that you are part of the team too.

Of course, you must also remember that you are an integral part of the team. Although you are in charge, don’t also forget that your own attitude can affect the behavior of your team members towards their work and even their relationships between one another. Always treat your team mates as an equal, and show them that you are open to new ideas and methods that may help improve your processes and output.

Most importantly, always keep a healthy approach towards all these conflicts. Whether you encounter big or small tensions at work, don’t bring these negative vibes and emotions outside the office and into your homes. As a leader, you cannot effectively fix tensions and conflicts if you yourself cannot handle a good balance between work and domestic concerns.

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3 Smartsheet

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