Understanding conflicts.

by Baba

Recently a friend shared about an unpleasant situation at work. He said, ” I don’t get along with a team member of mine. We had a tiff and since then we are not talking terms. Whenever our team is going out for coffee or outings, if he goes, I don’t go, and if i go, he avoids going. This has been going on for a long time and now i can’t bear it any longer.”

On another occasion somebody asked, ” How to handle difficult persons ? ” He added, ” I find it very difficult to handle people who are difficult – I get along with everybody else but not them.”

Let us try and understand ‘difficult’. If we look back to our school/college days, all that we knew was easy, all that we did not know was difficult. Actually from studies to swimming to riding a bicycle, everything is difficult till we learn it or know it. All that we don’t know or haven’t learnt is obviously difficult for us.

Our relationships with people also work on similar lines. We normally share good relations with people we get along with. We get along with people who are like to us or whom we understand. People whom we don’t understand, we normally don’t get along with. Most of our conflicts occur with people who are different from us. They have different views, perceptions, mannerisms, likes/dislikes, response mechanisms or priorities, or maybe they think or behave differently.

These differences lead to conflicts, and conflict lead to disappointments, demoralization, depression, hurt, resentment, anger, stress and disinterest and dislike for people and subsequently work. Conflict do have their positive aspects as well as we get to see and listen to perspectives different from ours, thereby getting new and fresh ideas and inputs. However, not all of us are able to capitalise on this positive aspect of conflicts.

Basically conflicts happen when

– We don’t understand others.
– We don’t want to understand others.
– We don’t think we need to or required to understand others.

Clearly the solution to the first category is simple. Since lack of understanding is the root cause, understanding the person and the situation is the key. What we need to do here is to find the first opportunity to talk it out. There is no better remedy than open communication and sincere listening.

The second category is a little tricky because it involves ‘not wanting to do something’. Even before we try to resolve the conflicts, we will need to understand why is it so, that is why is it that we don’t want to understand others. There can be so many reasons – maybe the relationship has gone bad, maybe it is our ego, maybe we carry a certain perception about the person, maybe there are some underlying biases or maybe it’s because we just don’t like the person. To re-solve the conflicts, these underlying issues will need to be sorted out first. As long as these issues remain conflicts are bound to be there. Building, tolerance, patience, empathy and mutual trust can help in removing the underlying factors leading to conflicts.

For the third category again there can be so many reasons. One could be position and power -for example, people in higher positions do not consider it important to understand the viewpoints or feelings of people junior to them. It could be because of the great sense of personal importance because of which an individual looks down upon other people. Personal insecurities or fear could be another reason. Or it could be plain manipulative behavior or politics at work.

The third category requires an attitudinal change in the people concerned, then only they would be able to look beyond self and self interests.

It is often said conflicts are inevitable, where there are people there are bound to be conflicts. However, it is the responsibility of each one of us at workplace to make sure that our conflicts are not limiting the organization from achieving its fullest potential.

Author : Kalpana AroraNew Delhi

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