People have different perspectives of the world, and disagreements are natural. Conflicts are commonplace in the workplace. Conflicts arise as a result of people holding opposing viewpoints and wanting others to understand theirs.
Although conflicts between employees occur in the workplace, they can have an impact on their teams. A conflict between teams, if left unresolved, can lead to a dilution of work culture as well as conflicting situations with customers (poor experiences being delivered).
For example, if one employee believes a problem should be fixed by an employee from another team and they both disagree, it has the potential to cause conflict between the two employees. This can result in a breakdown in communication among individual employees.
This can have a negative impact on their respective teams and create an unfavourable work environment. This results in a lack of ownership, which almost always manifests itself in interactions with customers.
When the parties involved refuse to understand or even entertain the fundamental idea that others have a different way of understanding the world, the conflict escalates.
The term “conflict” typically refers to something that must be resolved or avoided. In reality, a disagreement is a great opportunity to make progress – to broaden one’s understanding of oneself, learn from different perspectives, and even enable innovative problem-solving solutions. When different perspectives coexist, progress and growth occur.
What can leaders do to help their people manage conflicting situations?
Leaders are critical to maintaining a healthy level of conflict in the workplace.
What leaders can do is ensure that all parties involved in the conflict have a clear understanding of their goals.
Conflicts are usually caused by opposing sets of values that are important to different people. Storytelling is a tried-and-true method for clarifying the values of all parties involved in a conflicting situation and directing thinking toward solutions.
A problem’s framing is similar to how a story is told. Storytelling helps in problem re-definition and provides a useful context in which to view and understand the situation.
A leader’s role is to help the parties in finding a way to step back from their positions (if even only temporarily) and understand other points of view. Storytelling enables leaders to think more flexibly and creatively, which eventually leads to a more healthy and peaceful way of resolving workplace conflicts.
Storytelling can help with the following aspects of conflict resolution:
- Storify the conflicting situation
- Keep the focus on the issue to be resolved
- Turn the solution-finding process into a creative exercise
Leaders also contribute to a healthy culture by resolving workplace conflicts, whether between individuals or teams or with external parties such as customers or partners. And storytelling helps in achieving this while maintaining the rapport between the parties involved.
About The Author
Vinod Krishna is a brand storytelling trainer and consultant at DustyPaths.
He brings 3 decades of experience in leading people, projects, and businesses
to forge new paths in storytelling, communication and leadership development.
He is an avid barefoot runner, trekker, theater artist, and photographer.
Connect with him on LinkedIn