Getting to the Root of Conflict

As a leader, you will be dealing with conflict and it is important to get to the real issues, which may be different from the presenting ones. Here’s how!

Create a safe environment. Ask if it is a good time to talk. If it is not, set a date for the talk and have a conversation where no one can hear or see you. Let them know that you are on a fact-finding mission and are not looking to blame anyone.

Let people know that you are aware of the conflict. You don’t have to reveal your sources. If you noticed the conflict, let them know what you experienced. Address the conflict as soon as possible. The closer to the event, the better.

Don’t ask yes or no questions. Use phrases like “Tell me what happened and be as specific as possible.” Or “Please explain the issues, from your perspective.”

Ask for details. Ask questions like: “What do we not know but should know?” “How can we get that information?” “How did it start and how did it escalate?”

Ask for solutions. “How do you suggest that we resolve this?” “What could be done differently, moving forward?”

Then be sure to actively listen! Your job is not to rebut, but rather to fact-find and hear their perspectives. Encourage the speaker to provide more information. Let them know that you sincerely want to hear what is being said. Only by knowing all the facts can you find the best solution!

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