ATD Blog

Getting Others to Agree With You in a World of Conflicts 2

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone agreed with you, because you’re correct, and they are all wrong? Wouldn’t it be nice if your recruiters hired only the “yes” man, and all conflicts would be resolved automatically in your organization? Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone read your mind, and there would be no arguments ever? 

Unfortunately, in a diverse world, we hold different perspectives and often don’t agree with one another. However, diverse thinking and backgrounds foster creativity and innovation. The famous six thinking hats method invented by Edward de Bono to solve problems and evaluate ideas is a great example of how diverse thinking helps you make better decisions. Another well-known model of resolving conflicts is Thomas Kilmann’s conflict resolution model. Taking into consideration both models, I find that using the following three simple steps in any conflict is effective.  

Advocating your position is an easier way, but probably won’t get you very far with a solution. When you find you’re experiencing strong emotions arguing your position with others, step back and try this. 

Step 1: Create a Common Goal 

What is the common goal for you and your counterpart? Is it a better future for the country or the organization? Is this to increase revenue for your department? Is it to improve a painful process? It’s easy to get bogged down in different opinions and ideas before you realize you are working on the same goal.  


Step 2: Recognize the Different Types of Conflicts 

Some conflicts are easier to resolve than others. Take a look at three different types of conflicts. 

  • Fact: This is the easiest conflict to resolve because it relates to the facts and data, which can be validated from research or history.  
  • Method: You have a common goal, but disagree on the method to achieve this goal. For example, you want to motivate associates by engaging them with fun team activities. But your opponents believe it’s more effective to motivate others using rewards and recognition.  
  • Goals: You want to increase revenue, but your opponent believes cutting costs is most important. When you have a goal conflict, look at the gap, and discuss how to find a common goal. 
  • Value: This is the most difficult conflict to resolve because the values are rooted in people’s upbringing and background. You may believe that people are the most critical assets in your company. Others may believe business results are the most critical and people are just numbers.

Step 3: Develop the Best Way to Resolve the Conflict  

Not all conflicts are handled the same way. According to Thomas Kilmann’s five modes of conflict resolution, you should evaluate each situation and use them to achieve your goal. 

  • Avoiding: If the conflict is trivial, or if both parties are emotionally charged, it’s better to avoid the conflict or pick another time when both are calm to deal with the conflict. 
  • Accommodating: You sacrifice your needs to meet others’ need, when others are the experts and you want the social credit.  
  • Compromising: You and your counterpart meet halfway. Both of you make sacrifices, when the situation is urgent and you’re looking for a short-term solution.  
  • Competing: Opposite of accommodating, you know you’re an expert and you’re correct. When the situation is urgent, you will hold your position. 
  • Collaboration: The most time-consuming method, collaboration is effective when time is not a constraint and when both parties don’t have a satisfactory solution. This requires both parties to listen to each other’s position and come up with a new solution that meets both needs.  

In times of conflict, think about a common goal. Recognize the different types of conflicts, and then decide the best way to resolve it. Ultimately, if you want to achieve a different result, something different has to take place.

About the Author

Jenny Wang has a passion for helping people improve performance through holistic learning. She is a senior consultant responsible for Career and Professional Development Programs for Office Depot. She is also a certified yoga instructor and health coach. Contact her at [email protected]

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