Use Soft Skills to Resolve Personal Conflicts on Projects
Good managers can work with all kinds of people, and don’t shy away from the challenge of working through conflict. Conflict can occur for all types of reasons – and conflict is not necessarily bad. Conflict occurs when different people have different ideas. There may be technical conflict, schedule conflicts, spending conflicts, etc. Whatever the reason, you need to face the conflict and not ignore it. Ignoring it usually makes the problem worse. The earlier you face it, the easier it will be to resolve.
Conflict can occur with your managers, your peers or your staff. Here are some examples of conflict you might experience on projects.
- You and a colleague have different ideas on the type of equipment that will best solve the requirements of your project.
- Another project manager and you need the same resource at the same time.
- A team member thinks you’re being unrealistic about deadlines. The person is frustrated, raises his voice and acts obstructive.
When conflict occurs, take these steps:
- Take a time out. If you or the other person is getting heated, tell them you need to take some time to collect your thoughts. Even though you asked for the five minutes, it is really for the other party to cool off as well. Make a coffee or go for a walk. It might be surprising how a short walk (or a long one) can help you relax. This will help you both to calm down and reflect on what has happened.
- Defuse the situation. When you restart your conversation, start with a disarming comment such as “Let’s start over again.”. This will make the atmosphere more positive.
- Identify the cause of the conflict. Many times when emotion is high you may lose site of the actual cause of the conflict. State your perception of the cause and see if the other party agrees.
- Solve the problem. The nature of “confrontation” is that you need to “confront” the problem and solve it. Both parties need to work together to resolve it constructively. Discuss the various solutions to the problem and try to agree on the pros and cons of each before deciding on the best course of action.
- Observe body language. While all this is happening, you need to focus on your body language. Use open stances. Take your hands out of your pockets and never fold your arms. Try and use slow hand movements. Use a passive voice. Maintain good eye contact. Listen carefully and watch their body language as well.
- Agree on a course of action – and follow-through. This helps to ensure the conflict is resolved and also builds trust that will help defuse similar situations in the future.
You can utilize this process to turn a conflict into a team-building and learning opportunity.
Soft-skills training! Need training on project soft skills – leadership, negotiating, communication, change management? Contact us today to discuss bringing a training class to your organization.