Why Conflict Resolution May Be Your Most Important Skill
As a conflict resolution speaker and conflict negotiation skills speaker, I am amazed at the importance this workplace problem has taken in corporate life. I am not “amazed” that it is important, but that this highly important negotiation skills issue has taken so long to get the recognition it deserves.
Your most important negotiation skill?
In a recent (July 2023) Harvard Business blog, the importance of the issue was brought into sharp focus by reviewing several key reasons for the need to master negotiation skills to resolve conflicts. One important paragraph from the article I would like to review:
“In conflict resolution, you can and should draw on the same principles of collaborative negotiation that you use in dealmaking…you should aim to explore the interests underlying parties’ positions, such as a desire to resolve a dispute without attracting negative publicity or to repair a damaged business relationship.”
As a conflict resolution skills speaker, one point, seemingly obvious, is often overlooked: workplace conflicts begin and end with people. It seems a given, I know, but many managers are all too quick to take the position that conflicts arise from specific policy, or safety concerns or technology or even commuting. Managers fail to mention it may be one of the above, all of the above plus many more, but are always reinforced with the overlay of people issues.
When conflicts arise in organizations, the very individuals who should be included in resolving conflicts are often excluded. It always comes back to haunt.
Take, for example, ESG issues (environmental, social, governance). As a conflict resolution and conflict negotiation skills speaker, I maintain that under a broad ESG banner organizations who are experiencing ESG problems, whether they are public or private, have neglected to address and negotiate people problems.
Whether those people problems involve pollution, endemic racism, unethical pressures on sales staff, accounting problems or any other matters, it is a virtual guarantee those matters started with an avoidance to negotiate in a collaborative manner. Each problem began with a reluctance of one part of the organization to fully negotiate the impact on all other areas of the organization extending to the community and beyond.
While I realize that ESG is a somewhat contentious issue, I also understand that the ESG screen came about because no one bothered to “explore the interests underlying parties’ positions.” If a company willingly polluted despite greater community pushback, why would the situation not explode?
Therefore, if unsafe working conditions or sexual harassment or bribery or fraud was allowed to fester for years, I can almost guarantee those issues were raised by well-intentioned people, ignored by people who were too busy to negotiate a solution and raised by people who had no choice but to “damage business relationships” by running to the media.
Why is conflict resolution the most important skill?
The negotiation part of conflict resolution is vital. It is a recognition that key executives seek “to resolve a dispute without attracting negative publicity.”
To do make an effort to negotiate, requires a willingness to bring problems to light, share them with honesty and compassion and to properly answer them, resolving the conflict. When executives ignore the people part, problems will follow.
To contact Mike Hourigan, Conflict Resolution and Conflict Negotiation Motivational Speaker, please call Mike today at (704) 875-3030 or fill out the form below.