The Art of Defusing

Societies are made up of different types of people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Some people are more prone to the fast-paced commercial life, while others are more placid and relationship oriented. Every culture is going to have conflict and tension due to its character-varied makeup, which is why we have many organizations that specialize in ensuring all groups have a voice. The workplace has the same characteristic. The differences in personalities can lead to conflicts, just on a smaller scale. So to avoid full-scale office wars, we’re going to look at a lost mediating art form: the art of defusing conflict.

Understanding Your Audience
One of the first mistakes we make when addressing issues with our employees or co-workers is misunderstanding the situation. There are several ways to misunderstand people, but in this case, we’re going to focus on two, the first being personality. Each person handles stress and pressure differently. While some buckle down and press through the problem, others need to express their frustrations openly. What may seem like a full-blown argument could merely be a stress reliever. It is important to understand what type of person is involved and their particular background. The second is misunderstanding the particular issue. As a leader, it is imperative to empathize with your team members and try and see where they’re coming from. Simply listening to your employees’ frustrations and problems will help build a stronger team.

Timing is Everything
The age-old saying, timing is everything, couldn’t be more true. If an NBA player makes a shot after the buzzer, it doesn’t count. If a politician rallies his followers after the ballots have been placed, he or she loses the election. In your company, do-or-die situations are apparent. The best way to confront conflict is like ripping off a bandage – quick and direct. Sometimes, letting frustrations fester tends to blow the situation out of proportion and lead to other conflicts arising. As a leader, you need to have a united front, one that is going forward together in unity. Nevertheless, other issues need to have time to cool down before tackling them, but these still require immediate action. Address it and make a timeline as to when it will be discussed and by when it should be solved.

Conflict is Good, Alleviate Pressure
In any situation, the analogy of a boiling pot can be applied. Due to our differences and personality traits, we as humans are a stew waiting to boil over. It’s not a bad thing once you realize the truth about civilization: conflict can be a good thing. It creates checks and balances and leads to healthy discussions. Without some conflict, ideas would never come about. Don’t get me wrong, I tend to avoid conflict at all costs, but to what end? By not allowing things to get away from us a bit, we might be quenching inspiration and creativeness from our team members. So when things feel like a closed Dutch oven over an extremely hot fire, crack the lid to alleviate pressure. Let some of the steam out, as to not let it get out of hand. Without allowing open communication from time to time, problems get bottled up until the day the cap bursts.

Straight Forward, Onward and Upward
Your office is a beautiful representation of cultures, personalities, and customs from around the world. It would be ill-advised to assume there aren’t issues or problems under the surface, waiting to jump out. As a leader, it is best to be open and honest about situations. Use the appropriate timing and empathy when addressing certain individuals and answering tough questions. Knowing that a healthy dose of conflict can lead to a hefty dose of creativity, it is best to embrace them without shying from your company’s mission and goals. To move forward and grow as an office, continue to follow up on issues and how your employees are feeling. Defusing conflict with an empathetic yet straightforward attitude will go a long way in overall office morale.

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