12 Workplace Conflict Resolution Techniques For PMs

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Conflict is part of Project Managers’ work. Knowing how to resolve conflict is essential for any PM.
According to the American Management Association (AMA), managers spend at most 24% of their time managing conflict. (Cue a sea, Project Managers, “only 24 %?”),) However, there is no guarantee that this time is productive or results in healthy conflict resolution.
People avoid conflict because of poor conflict resolution techniques, toxic culture, or managers who aren’t skilled in empathy. As Project Managers, we often have to deal with emotional labor. We must unravel negative dynamics and create a better culture and process. How do PMs handle conflict in the workplace?
If you haven’t already, please check out our post about conflict resolution strategies. This post focuses on the fact that communication is at the root of all conflicts. It is possible that expectations were not set, contexts may not be clear, and intentions and actions may have not been correctly interpreted. This idea can be a core belief in how you handle conflict. It helps us to see the inefficiencies in our process and teams. Responsible handling of conflict can provide insights into the culture, process, and team dynamics.
12 Conflict Resolution Techniques for Dealing with Conflict in the Workplace
As Project Managers, we often have to grab the bull by its horns. But luckily, with the right tools, we can solve conflict without creating an emotional atmosphere, create a safe environment for our teams, and improve communication so that our teams are ready and versed in conflict resolution when it occurs.
These are 12 conflict resolution techniques that can be used to resolve conflict.
1. Forget about winning or being right
A mutual win is the only way to deal with conflict at work. This results in de-escalation and new ground. The opposite side of a conflict will be treated as an enemy. This makes it impossible for both sides to work together.
This can be difficult, especially if there is a history of conflict or disagreement with one person (or you really are sure you’re wrong). However, repeated conflict, regardless of how small, is essential. When conflict is approached in a mutually respectful atmosphere, it can provide valuable insights into your client’s expectations and communication styles. This can help you to find the best solution for the client, team, and project.
2. Don’t Look For A Person To Blame – Look For A Root Cause
We Project Managers know that people make mistakes. We are often the ones who catch them. It is possible to focus on the individual’s mistakes without blaming them. You can do this by looking at the moment in the process where the mistake was made. Did the individual have all the information they needed to complete their job properly? Did your process have the checks and balances that they should? Did you experience some loss of context as information was changed?
Focusing on the process rather than on someone else can help prevent future mistakes and give your team confidence that they are in good hands. After all, everyone makes mistakes – even Project Managers.
Remember, you are not Mr. Perfect. 3. Before you meet, name your emotions
We’re humans; imperfec