Hackernoon logoHow To Deal With Interpersonal Conflict by@adityapurwa

How To Deal With Interpersonal Conflict

Aditya Purwa Hacker Noon profile picture

@adityapurwaAditya Purwa

Front End Engineer

Within our daily interaction with people, we expect things to go out of control. People don’t always have the same interest, and this could lead to some pretty bad things if handled incorrectly.

This is a guide on how employee in Myriatek are expected to deal with their conflict with co-workers and clients. While this is not a strict-to-follow guide, we expect people to use it as a guidelines to measure and plan their actions.

Let’s have a scenario of a team that have their manager told them to work remotely, but still ask them to go to office for sign in to the fingerprint machine. The team ended spending their time in the office instead as they already arrived there, and work together.

However, the manager is not there. He is not required to sign in to the fingerprint, and he work remotely managing the team. He is aware though, that his team spend the time in the office.

The team started to raise an issue, about the manager not being there to explain the project, not being there to give feedback, etc.

This is a real issue that I experienced, but slightly changed. The problem of this issue was really dangerous, some team member wanted to overthrow the manager, other said something really bad about the manager, some does not care. So, let’s start with the guide on how to deal with such issue.

Rule 1 — Before taking an action, think what if someone else did that action to you.

This is the base on how we interact socially. Do things that you like other people do to you, and don’t if you don’t like other people did it to you.

Example here is overthrowing, would you really like being overthrown, undermined? If not, then this is the last action that you should take.

When dealing with client, example would be, should I drop this client? Well, think yourself as a client. Do you want to be dropped when you really need a solution?

Rule 2— Control the mass.

Before things goes out of control, someone has to take control of the mass. Do not let anyone take any action further regarding this issue, and never address the issue as a group.

Instead, control everyone and collect inputs from them, moderate them internally and order the solution. They will say change the manager, talk with the manager, let us skip work, throw the fingerprint device, etc.

Order this input into something with less impact, to the biggest. It would be like this then:

  1. Talk with the manager.
  2. Let us skip the fingerprint process as we work remotely.
  3. Change the manager.

You have to throw some input that is dangerous for everyone, such as skipping work, this could get the person fired and the issue would be more widespread now as the company know something is wrong with your team.

In this scenario, if the mass is not controlled and everyone face the manager altogether, it is very likely that everyone will say whatever that is in their head, issue will raise even more, and the manager, instead of accepting inputs, would start thinking you as the enemy.

And to follow rule 1 above, I am sure nobody likes having mass approached them and say bad things to them.

Rule 3— Talk in private.

In the scenario above, no one talk with the manager in private. So, if you already managed to control the mass. Start by talking in private with the manager.

As you collected the inputs from everyone, start by addressing the problem first, not the solution. If you start with saying the solution, we want to change the manager, it is very likely that the manager will stop accepting any inputs from you any further.

Instead, address the problem. Explain that the team has been out of sync because the remote work implemented, and that the team really need an assistance from the manager.

It is very likely that you will receive positive feedback from the manager, and he might also provides another solution for your team to discuss. Example, we make remote work only for few days instead of everyday.

Rule 4 — Communicate the feedback from the opposite side.

As you received your feedback from the manager, you want to communicate it with the team and still control the mass. You might already schedule a session with the manager to discuss this issue with the team. So you want everyone to be in control during this session, so no one say words that might break the negotiation.

You really should act as a moderator on this case, as the team already trusted you with their inputs, and you already talked with the manager. So make sure that you do most of the talking.

Rule 5 — Never whisper.

During the negotiation session, never whisper. It is probably simple, but whisper is dangerous. The opposing side might started to think the worst outcome of everything, and they would put a higher defense on the issue.

Instead, ask an open question, asking question make the one with the answer feels in control. The manager would feel better because they received inputs and capable of answering it.

Remember, you are here to make positive negotiation, not a war.

Rule 6 — Don’t talk for others in general.

As a moderator or anyone in the team, never talk for others when you are not sure that it is what they want, especially when making a generalized statement.

Example, you said that not everyone able to do remote work because some might have no internet connection in their house. But in fact, everyone did have it, or even if someone did, it is best to let the one who didn’t have the connection talk instead of you.

When talking with people with the real issue, the opposing side will really see the person having the problem, and what is their input on it. You as moderator or other team member who didn’t experiencing the problem, is just relaying fact. While the one having problem is telling stories.

Rule 7 — Patient.

After the negotiation session, the outcome might not be what you wanted. It is very easy to continue with the next solution, but you still might not want to do that.

If the opposing side said that they will fulfill the result of the negotiation, but then suddenly he is not doing it, don’t judge immediately that he betrayed the negotiation.

Instead, wait for few days and see, then evaluate the outcome. If after the negotiation and no result is visible. Go talk with the opposing side and ask why are they not fulfilling the negotiation deals.

If they explained something reasonable, give another time. If not, talk with them in private again. You are here not to talk about the next solution, but to find a way to make the current solution implemented.

Rule 8 — Consult with the higher position.

If they were still not fulfilling their negotiation deals, ask them to discuss with the higher position. In this scenario, your team might discuss it with the manager’s manager, the director, or even the C-level.

You still need to control the mass on it, talk in private with the higher position first about the issue, and then schedule a negotiation session with the manager, the higher position, and the team.

Explain the things exactly like how you explain it on the first meeting. Changing your explanation would make the opposing side have chance to question your credibility, as you keep changing your inputs or solutions.

Rule 9 — Outcome is from the higher position.

Once the negotiation is done, the higher position will be the one deciding on what action to take. The reason you choose a third party with higher position is to trust their decision. Never question their decision right in the negotiation session.

If after the decision from the higher position still cause the team to have issue, address it to the higher level position directly. Once the higher position think that there might be no chance except changing the opposing side, you have to prepare for the worst, the replacement might not be better.

When the higher position offered a replacement, you have to make the criteria of the replacement very clear. So, when the replacement can not fulfill the criteria, you can say to the higher position that the replacement might not be able to resolve the issue.

If you are not clear on what you want as the replacement, and then he ended up being worse than the previous manager. You will have hard time talking to the higher position, as they will think the problem is not with the manager, but with your team instead.

Conclusion

Dealing with conflict is not easy and not hard also. The base here is to treat others like you want to be treated. When you have this base in mind, you will always find a way to resolve the conflict with minimal negative effects.

Remember, communication is very important.

You experienced on dealing with conflicts before? Feel free to share with others on what you did, so others can learn.

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