Resolving Emotionally Charged Conflicts

 

Conflict is inevitable and, while sometimes it can be a healthy thing, it undermines leadership and productivity for organizations, especially when they are emotionally charged. When emotions take hold of a conversation, it fragments relationships and disrupts the work culture, leading to uneasy collaborations and a challenging environment. And, with a challenging environment, an organization is more prone to losing employees, especially if it’s led by someone who consistently lets strong emotions cloud their better judgment. 

Conflicts have become increasingly commonplace within organizations throughout the pandemic, with employee-employer disputes, mainly due to pandemic-motivated changes to work-life, including rigid hybrid models and complex remote working plans. Considering how much more employees are valuing their work-life balance and developing changing attitudes towards work, the importance of conflict resolution has been heightened. Leaders must show a combination of empathy and poise when handling the plights of their employees in these consistently unpredictable times. 

How To Find Reason Within the Unreasonable


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Conflict resolution demands a more nuanced approach

Conflicts often develop because of unreasonable demands or expectations. Sometimes leaders expect things from employees that they can’t deliver, then, because of emotions, fail to identify the reason behind this. When an emotionally charged conflict occurs, it’s easy for either side to feel threatened, with the negative feelings morphing said conflict into an adversarial battle. Problems feel non-negotiable, and relationships feel irreparable because both sides can’t look at a situation from each other’s perspective. Statistics show that most conflicts are due to ego or personality clashes. At the same time, poor leadership and a lack of support (particularly with heavy workloads) are among the chief reasons for conflicts.
As mentioned earlier, more people are taking stock in their futures due to the pandemic, feeling they are in better positions to declare their professional objectives while weighing those professional goals with personal needs. This change in work approach has led to what various economists are calling The Great Resignation. More team mediations and conflict coaching have been administered with the hope of eliminating conflict points, helping leaders to see beyond their various demands and better understand the viewpoints of their workers.

To find a reason when both sides are unreasonable, leaders have to be adaptable and constantly open to learning. The most successful leaders are willing to admit to themselves (and others) that their opinions aren’t always the best ones. Receptivity is key to creating an open and honest forum for discussing any pertinent issues behind the conflict in question. Learning new perspectives and approaches on tricky subjects while developing greater emotional intelligence to understand what triggers employees allows for more empathetic leadership to shine through. The more empathy shown, the more composed both sides are to discuss the root causes of their conflict and the most reasonable solutions.

Understanding Shifting Professional Expectations


The professional landscape has changed, leading to more questions about conflict resolution

Employees are unafraid to let their bosses know that they are overworked and overwhelmed, especially when working remotely and dealing with home/family responsibilities on top of work pressure. Mental health has been a significant talking point throughout the pandemic, with more than half of employees in different studies expressing their struggles with work stress and capacity. A failure to properly scope work and understand the full capabilities of employees easily triggers conflicts between parties. Broader shifts in society also lead employees to speak out about potential conflict points like burnout or the work culture.

The only way leaders can react to these shifting expectations, and increased voicing of opinions towards adverse professional elements is through understanding. The professional environment should further encourage employees to speak out. Every conflict has a deep-rooted reason, even for the simplest reason. More informal communication fosters increased relatability between employees and their bosses, with both parties feeling as if they can go to each other about anything.

Leaders can organize open forums, inviting their employees to speak their minds or recommend guidance solutions to help employees ease their professional and personal anguish. Providing multiple avenues to resolve the deeper issues that lead to emotionally charged conflict helps organizations to promote collaboration and makes leaders more resourceful, trying to get the most out of the staff they have without forcing unreasonable demands on them.

Conflict can be good in the business world as long as constructiveness is behind it. However, emotionally charged situations benefit no one and lead to unhealthy surroundings that hamper organizations, productivity, and eventually, profitability. With today’s landscape demanding a more personal touch to handle complex professional matters, leaders need to take a more nuanced approach to address conflict.

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