Training programs on conflict management are always in great demand because conflicts are an integral part of any human interaction and any workplace is rife with them. People go to great lengths to avoid conflicts, but experience tells us that it hardly ever works. So, what is needed is to understand conflict and manage it effectively so that conflict can work in our favor. But managing conflict effectively does not come naturally to us so we need a training program on conflict management that will enable us to deal with conflicts in an effective manner.
We must remember that conflict is not bad, if managed in the right way, conflict can be quite productive.
First, it is important to understand the meaning of conflict. Conflict is nothing more than a disagreement – where people have different and sometimes opposing views. In this sense, conflict is good, because management theories tell us that “group-think” can be dangerous, in fact for innovation different views are important.
Then why is it that people shy away from conflict? The reason is simple – we don’t know how to handle conflict effectively and due to this a conversation, that just starts with differing opinions very quickly turns into an emotional argument with the actual point of valuable discussion taking a backseat. This means that we need to learn how to manage conflicts effectively and training programs designed specifically to enable people in the workplace to manage conflicts effectively is the answer.
So, what should an effective training on conflict management include? Here are some key elements:
- Understanding Conflict and Its Importance – This first aspect a good training program on conflict management needs to cover is the meaning of conflict. Defining conflict in the right way is important since generally people assume that conflict is bad, and we must avoid it. However, if managed right, conflict can bring us innovative ideas, help us understand different views and look at things from different perspectives. These are also the reasons why conflict is important. Unless people understand these aspects of conflict, it will be difficult to manage conflict effectively and make it productive.
- Tools and Techniques – Any training program on conflict management should introduce tools and techniques to participants that will enable them to manage conflict productively. These tools and techniques should include aspects of:
- communication during conflict,
- managing emotions during conflict,
- conflict resolution techniques like compromising, competing, accommodating
- Self-Awareness – This is a crucial aspect of learning how to manage conflict effectively, unfortunately, most training programs on conflict management to not delve into self-awareness. It is important for employees to know their own reaction to conflict, what behaviors they exhibit during conflict – both productive and unproductive, what is their personal preference in managing conflict or conflict management style and what they need to change personally to make conflict productive.
- Role in Conflict Management – This is another interesting and important aspect of conflict management training. It is important for an employee to recognize their role in conflict so that they can respond appropriately to the conflict situation. For example, as a party to the conflict there are certain set of actions that one must take to make conflict productive, similarly as a mediator to a conflict situation it is important to identify your role and respond appropriately.
- Negotiation Skills – Negotiation is an integral part of any conflict situation. Any training on conflict management must also train the participants on how to negotiate effectively when a conflict situation arises.
- Assertiveness – Of all the behavioral skills that contribute to making conflict either productive or unproductive, assertiveness is perhaps the most critical. While any training on conflict management must cover various behavioral aspects of conflict, assertiveness is one that cannot be missed. There is a thin line between assertiveness and aggression and the training must highlight the difference and how to ensure one does not cross the line.
So, when you are looking for a training program on conflict management, ensure that its covers these crucial aspects.