Conflict Resolution via Self-Management

Multi tool signifying a do it yourself approach to conflict resolution

Self-management is an informal process that seeks to restore workplace relationships without looking for the alleged perpetrator to be disciplined in some way. It is only appropriate to try this method of conflict resolution if you feel safe to do so.

It is important that you, the complainant, remain calm and polite. This process should be seen as an assertive and objective exercise and not an opportunity to become angry and aggressive. Think about an appropriate time and place to approach the perpetrator. Raising your complaint in a space where colleagues can see and/or hear you could easily humiliate or embarrass the perpetrator and cause more conflict with the same person or others who decide to ‘take their side’.

Conflict resolution doesn’t require confrontation

Before approaching the perpetrator, you should prepare what you are going to say and practice repeating this in a tone and manner that does not encourage escalation of the situation. Remember, the goal is conflict resolution.

When raising your complaint, you should be quite specific about the perpetrator’s action or behaviour that is upsetting you. There is no need to exaggerate or colour the behaviour/action with adjectives as this is only applying your own assumptions and could cause an aggressive response. Make sure that it is clear that you are only raising an objection to the behaviour/action and not the person as an individual.

Let the perpetrator know how their behaviour or actions makes you feel, i.e. why you would like them to stop behaving or acting in this way. It may be appropriate to offer the perpetrator an alternative and more constructive (or less offensive) method of dealing with a similar situation in the future.

Finish the conversation ensuring that you have agreement from the perpetrator that they will stop behaving/acting in the manner that has upset you.

Keep your manager or HR department appraised of your attempts at conflict resolution

Let your direct manager know about this situation and your approach. (Unless it was your direct manager who was the perpetrator. In this case, speak with your manager’s supervisor or someone from HR.)

Always consult with your manager or HR department if you need support to prepare your approach or to learn more about conflict resolution at work via self-management techniques. If you are a manager yourself, consider the value of undergoing conflict management training or conflict resolution training at work using self-management techniques so you can support your staff in making use of self-management techniques.

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About the Author

Catherine Gillespie brings a wealth of skill to her clients. With particular expertise in teaching communication and workplace conflict resolution skills, Catherine has made a marked difference to the organisations she has worked with. She empowers teams and managers to adopt constructive styles that support harmony, productivity and progress in the workplace.