In research I conducted a while back, leaders and managers said that they spent up to 40% of their time resolving conflict in workplace teams or helping specific team members with their conflict behaviors. Imagine what your job would be like–and how your organization would benefit–if you could put even half that amount of time toward other important work.
Conflict pivots aren’t a magic elixir that prevents conflict in workplace teams. You wouldn’t want that anyway. The collision of ideas, after all, can enhance creativity, yield better decisions, and deepen understanding and connection.
But conflict pivots are a way to prevent small conflicts from erupting into something bigger, help your people get back on track sooner during a conflict, and help you avoid damage to team dynamics. Here are some ways conflict pivots help leaders, managers, and HR professionals achieve results like those:
Teach your team how to use conflict well
Great team and business relationships can have great conflict and still be strong. The key is to capitalize on the collision of ideas without allowing the collision to leave lasting damage. Better conflict resolution skills alone won’t get your team all the way there. They need good conflict resolution skills + a simple process for using them + a way to keep their balance during conflict so they can access those good skills.
Conflict pivots are the two missing ingredients from the equation. When your team members know how to use the three pivots, they can keep their balance in even the most difficult conversations, get their balance back quicker, and figure out what really needs discussion to sort through a conflict collaboratively and effectively.
Replace venting with problem solving
If co-workers see you as a “good ear,” or part of your job is to help others when they’re in conflict, conflict pivots can make your job easier…and much more effective. That’s because conflict pivots give you a simple, structured way to help them think through whatever is frustrating them.
Instead of giving advice that may or may not work, help them discover their own path through the problem. Instead of trying to prevent them from venting (or worse, allowing them to vent), help them figure out why they’re hooked by the conflict. Instead of listening to a new version of the same old story, help them move past their Stuck Story and find a solution that will stand the test of time.
Set a good example
There’s no avoiding it: Others are looking at the example you set. If you squelch valuable conflict in the name of “playing nice” or because you’re uncomfortable with conflict, you risk a team of “yes” men and women, a team that’s afraid to raise important differences of opinion, and a team that can’t shine as brightly as it’s capable. If you let conflict rise to the surface but don’t know how to manage it, you risk a team with bruised dynamics. If you don’t handle conflict well yourself much of the time, you risk reducing your own effectiveness.
Conflict pivots can help you master the way you respond to conflict and raise the bar for those around you.