Key Skills Required When Handling Conflict

As a manager at a workplace, it is inevitable to come across conflicts once in a while. This course teaches you the three essential skills when you need to deal with workplace conflicts. You will learn how to deal with conflicts, why you need to deal with conflicts quickly and efficiently, and how to use the DESC system. This training is useful for people who need help dealing with conflicts, anyone who wants to implement the DESC system or anyone who wants to learn about solving conflicts in general.

Key Skills Required When Handling Conflict
Key Skills Required When Handling Conflict

Content Summary

Assertiveness
Active Listening
Empathy
Power Questions
Action Planning
Key Message
Evaluation

Do you feel like you don’t have the skills to deal with conflict in the workplace?

Managers must have the skills in their arsenal to deal with any conflicts that arise in the workplace and have varying techniques to deal with the situation.

Here are three essential skills you have to adopt as a manager to deal with conflict:

Assertiveness

Firstly, the key skill you must have is assertiveness.

Being assertive is being confident and forceful whilst considering other people’s points of view. One system to use is the DESC system- this involves first describing the other person’s behavior and then expressing your feelings, specifying what you want to change and the consequences.

An example of this in action would sound like “John, I’ve noticed you constantly undermining Jack in the office over the last few weeks, I’m not impressed that you would put a colleague down like this, I’d like an end to this otherwise we will have to call a disciplinary meeting.”

Other assertive qualities you will have to show are during any meetings to resolve conflict. You have to explore the reasons for the conflict without making any accusations whilst rejecting finger-pointing, name-calling, and insults.

Active Listening

A further key skill for resolving conflict is active listening.

Active listening needs to be used to relay to the parties involved that you fully understand their feelings and thoughts during conflict resolution. Focus on the words and the tonality to fully comprehend what is being said – you can do this through three separate techniques.

Firstly, you can restate what they’ve said, this is where you repeat back to them exactly what they have said, but using synonyms instead of word-for-word repetition.

Secondly, you can paraphrase what they’ve said. This is when you use your own words to show your own understanding of what the other person meant – you would start this sentence by saying something like “So I think you’re saying…” or “You believe that…” to confirm the other person’s feelings in the context of the discussion.

Or thirdly you can reframe, where you not only describe what you think the person wants out of the situation, but offer solutions based on these thoughts.

Avoid being overly positive or negative, look for neutral solutions that benefit everyone, for example, if you hear a complaint of “I feel like I’m doing all of the work on my own in this department” – you should perhaps reframe it to “I’m hearing that you would really like other people to share the workload more evenly in this department”

Empathy

A further key skill you require is empathy.

Many managers will make assumptions during the conflict that are not true and fail to put themselves in the shoes of others.

You can show empathy by asking questions such as “So you’re unhappy at the moment because you think I should have done something for you this morning – is that right?”

Silently wait for confirmation of the person’s opinion – with empathy you don’t have to agree, however by just acknowledging the other person’s view, you can achieve a win-win solution where both parties come away happier.

So, when next dealing with a conflict situation, take into account the three key skills you require:

Firstly, assertiveness – be confident and forceful but consider other people’s views.

Secondly, active listening – show the conflicting party that not only have you listened to them but taken their emotions and views into consideration.

And finally, empathy – put yourself in the other person’s shoes and don’t make assumptions.

Power Questions

  1. Tell me about a time when you have had to deal with conflict in the past. What were the situation and outcome?
  2. What types of things did you say to help resolve the conflicting situation? Give examples.
  3. Describe your understanding of being assertive. Give examples of where you have shown assertion.
  4. Talk me through using the DESC model in a situation. Who was it, why did you speak to them, and what did you say?
  5. What was the outcome of using DESC in this situation? Have you used it again at all?
  6. How would you rate your listening skills? Why is this? How could you improve your listening skills further?
  7. Tell me about a time where you have had to listen very carefully to something that somebody was saying. Why was this?
  8. Describe your understanding of using empathy in a conflict situation. Give an example of where you have shown this.
  9. Is there any conflict situation that you want to avoid? What is the situation and why is this?
  10. Is there anybody that you work with that causes conflict? What behaviors do they show?
  11. If there is, who are they and what are they doing to cause this? What can you do about this to resolve it?
  12. What are the consequences of not dealing with conflict as it happens?

Action Planning

Action 1: Be More Assertive

Reflect on some situations in the workplace where you could have been more assertive. Write these down and make a note of how you could have improved your assertion in these situations. Discuss this with your colleagues and share feedback on how you could improve.

Action 2: Plan To Use DESC

Think of some situations you have coming up where you need to show more assertion and plan how you will use the DESC model to express how you feel. Practice this on a family member or work colleague before having the conversation for real.

Action 3: Practice Active Listening

Next time you have a conversation with someone pay attention to your own listening skills. How could these be improved? Use questioning skills to explore the other person’s point of view and see whether you can really understand them and also how they are feeling.

Key Message

  • Be assertive and use DESC: Describe the person’s behavior, Express your feelings, Specify change, and Consequences explained.
  • Example: “John, I’ve noticed you constantly undermining Jack in the office over the last few weeks, I’m not impressed that you would put a colleague down like this, I’d like an end to this otherwise we will have to call a disciplinary meeting.”
  • Active Listen: Restate, Paraphrase, and Reframe.
  • Show Empathy: Acknowledge Their View.

Evaluation

Question 1

Which of these is NOT an essential skill regarding conflict management in the workplace?

A. Assertiveness
B. Listening.
C. Decisiveness

Correct Answer:
C. Decisiveness
Answer Description:
Remember the three essential skills you have to adopt as a manager to deal with conflict are assertiveness, listening and empathy.

Question 2

What does D.E.S.C stand for?

A. Describe, Express, Specify, Consequences
B. Decide, Express, State, Communicate
C. Decipher, Explai, Specify, Compromise

Correct Answer:
A. Describe, Express, Specify, Consequences
Answer Description:
D.E.S.C stands for Describe, Express, Specify, and Consequences and is a method that is useful in dealing with conflict and confrontational situations.

Question 3

Which od these is not a good example of active listening?

A. The ability to concentrate
B. The ability to respond
C. The ability to correct
Correct Answer:
C. The ability to correct
Answer Description:
Active listening is the ability to focus, understand, comprehend, respond, and retain information. It is not about correction.

Published by Jeannette Scott

, a wellness coach specializing in stress management and quality of life. She’s covered topics from nutrition to psychology, from sexuality to autoimmune diseases and cancer.