Communication & Conflict Resolution: The Big Picture

Leadership. Drive. Achievement. Excellence. Today, the ability to work together to reach demanding goals is  crucial to obtaining the results an organization needs and expects. This requires communication skill and conflict management savvy. Here are four strategies you can use to make this happen.

1.   Thrive on DisagreementBig Picture, Thrive

People often get their creative juices bubbling by rubbing one mind against another, to produce new and improved concepts and procedures.  When people manage their differences well, the organization flourishes, not despite differences but because of them. In fact, negative reactions generally emerge from how we express and handle our personal diversity, not the variations themselves.

Only through sharing differing opinions, beliefs, experiences and goals can any group of people exceed their individual boundaries. Organizations – boards, teams, whole companies  – who create ways to make the most of their diversity share a variety of essential characteristics*, such as

  • having shared goals firmly in place;
  • basing discussion on facts rather than opinion;
  • developing a wide range of options instead of just a few alternatives, and
  • ensuring that everyone feels comfortable speaking up.

Not least among the common elements is humour; teams that can lighten up and let off steam among the whole group are also able to disagree, respectfully.

2.   Create Positive Outcomes 

Big Picture, Positive OutcomesEach of us has the power to choose our response to people and circumstances. In fact, humans are the only beings on the planet able to separate stimulus from response, and choose a reaction.  We have the power to choose how we will engage, speak, listen, hear, interpret and respond. Our choices shape the outcome of our interactions and create an effect, either positive or negative. This is the foundation of conflict management and resolution.

At the most basic level, just the discovery of a different point of view can enable us to see something that had not occurred to us individually. Through sharing ideas openly, focused on what a person says – not his or her personality – we are able to generate fewer problems and greater benefits than any one of our preferences might have produced on its own.

3.   Master the Communication Techniques to Reap Benefits
Big Picture, Reap BenefitsUnderstanding our own and others’ communication and conflict styles can help us master “creative abrasion” and become more useful to the organization. An increased capacity to manage differences productively, means greater creativity and innovation from everyone’s enhanced abilities. It is not an inborn talent; communication rests on specific skills. Like any skills, proficiency derives from training and practise. That’s where we come in.

4.   Watch What You Say

Big Picture, What you sayHow you say something is just as important as what you say. The best way to improve results is through increasing everyone’s ability to talk about the difficult things that really drive progress – setting clear expectations for performance and achievement; challenging people when their results fall short; praising and raising the bar for strong performers, and generating dialogue that gives everyone an opportunity to comment, question and contribute in their own way.

Communication is the way we get things done at work. Our results reflect how well – or poorly – we do this, making communication skills a core competency for both individual advancement and organizational success.

*  How Management Teams Can Have a Good Fight”; Kathleen M. Eisenhardt, Jean L. Kahwajy, L.J. Bourgeois III; Harvard Business Review, July-Aug 1997.

Copyright(c) 2015 Carol J. Sutton Cert.ConRes.

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One response to “Communication & Conflict Resolution: The Big Picture

  1. I agree that the analogy is an apt one, Dave. In fact, we rub up against each other in many ways, all the time. The difference between a creative outcome and a wound lies in the level of communication skill each person brings to the exchange. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

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