How can team managers handle team conflicts with body language
Conflicts tend to occur in all spheres of life, among friends, family, and in professional settings too. Conflicts are sharp disagreements between ideas, purposes or interests. For example, some people like to work in teams while others prefer working independently in an office. When handled correctly, conflicts can actually be useful– they become opportunities for growth and improvement, bringing about positive change that elevates our relationships.
This is easier said than done though; it is very easy to unnecessarily escalate and damage relationships when tempers run high. It takes a lot of patience and practice to come out on the other side as better people, but being equipped with the right knowledge and understanding can take you halfway there.
To be able to skillfully work through arguments, we must understand why they happen. There are three main ingredients in which conflict brews:
- Most often the lack of communication. The inability to correctly express and comprehend conversations is frequent, and can lead to disagreements.
- Another factor is having incorrect information, often completely unintentional.
- Thirdly, when there is imbalance in power dynamics, it is bound to cause problems.
While these are external factors, research shows that certain types of personality traits can also make a person prone to disagreements. People who are anxious, feel frequently resentful , who tend to fear confrontation, or are people-pleasers– all these will often find themselves clashing with others because they do not healthily express their opinions and emotions. Being able to point out these traits in oneself can be the first step in managing disagreements better.
Corporations also take this problem seriously, and there are a variety of organizations that offer courses and workshops on the topic that corporate employee teams can take to build better intuition on the subject.
One of the approaches practiced by them, called Conflict Management Coaching, is a one-to-one process with trained professionals based on extensive research.
The Right Mindset
When in an argument, we are often not thinking straight, and this makes us more hostile and unaccommodating than we would usually be. Getting out of the haze of anger and onto the right frame of mind is the first step towards peace-making:
- Tell yourself that your first goal is to understand the opposite person’s perspective; and your final one to reach a settlement where both parties feel satisfied.
- Understand that it is possible that others feel differently than you. Unless you feel as though you would have to act completely differently than your principles and goals, be prepared to compromise.
- Understand that bringing up issues does not worsen relationships, whether personal or professional. Instead, it can help the both of you grow as people.
- Finally, follow this process: define the problem, your common goals, and focus the conversation on how to fulfill those goals. It is healthier to imagine both parties working against the obstacles that come between them and their goals, rather than working against each other.
After both parties’ interests have been identified and listed, they are encouraged to generate as many creative options for resolving the conflict as possible, using brainstorming principles. This requires creativity, flexibility, and openness of thinking. Parties are instructed to devise as many ideas as possible, including wild and humorous ones, without evaluating or criticizing any. Brainstorming should not stop until each interest has been addressed in at least one brainstormed idea.
The final stage involves combining those options which meet the key interests of the parties into integrative or win-win solutions. Forming multiple solutions increase the likelihood that one acceptable to everyone will be found. This stage requires a more disciplined and logical form of problem-solving
Where your Body Language comes in
You might be thinking right, have the best interests at heart, and set out into the conversation thinking you’ve got it all covered. But somehow, things seem to be getting worse, and before you can manage the interaction it’s already gotten out of hand. Well, what went wrong? It’s likely that you unintentionally sent them the wrong signal, and made them more hostile to you. Here’s what to keep in mind:
- Keep your facial expressions calm and relaxed, make sure your jaw isn’t clenched, or showing any obvious sign of aggression.
- Use some ‘eye magic’: prolong eye contact, avoid a ‘shifting’ gaze. This shows the other party you are engaged and interested.
- Use ‘open’ body language, by gesticulating with your hands and body. Do not cross your hands or close yourself up, which could emotionally distance the opposite person from you.
- Keep your voice even, avoid shouting, or using abusive language.
- Most importantly of all, engage in active listening, nodding and showing you understand what they’re saying even if you disagree with what’s being said. By fully paying attention you become better at interpreting their point of view, and better prepared to present your own.
- Finally, ensure that you communicate in a private, familiar place where both parties can be honest and at ease.
A vital conclusion to any confrontation is following-up. Whether it is with the other party, or those working to resolve things, ensure everyone is still in agreement with the solutions. Here is where you can know if you were successful in mitigating a fight.
If disagreements continue despite repeated efforts, it is good to know when to let go of issues, or take them to higher authorities.
In the end, managing and de-escalating confrontations is a tricky process, and communication is the easily accessible, extremely effective solution— both to prevent conflicts and resolve them!
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