Conflicts in the team – how to solve them constructively?

Conflicts in the team – how to solve them constructively?
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In teamwork, conflicts are unavoidable. Building a cohesive team can be difficult and often takes a lot of time, but it is worth every effort, even when disagreements arise. How to effectively resolve them? We present the best ways.

Conflicts can arise in any team. According to a study by the Employers of Poland organization, managers (managers and HR staff) have to spend up to half of their working time dealing with difficult situations that occur between employees and resolving conflicts. This may sound unbelievable, but when you consider that each team member has his or her own goals, values, specific views and ways of doing things, you quickly come to the conclusion that disagreements in such a context are not so much inevitable, but even understandable, as they are based on the daily interaction of people who bring different points of view to the team.

With the right tools, we can deal with conflicts in an effective way. Our goal should become to soften the atmosphere that has been charged with negative emotions, create a safe space for discussion, and teach the team how to seek constructive solutions in the event of conflict.

Sources of conflict in the team

It is commonly accepted that the source of conflicts is a difference in views, having different opinions. In reality, there can be many different causes at the root of disagreements.

First of all, improper communication leads to conflicts. Lack of ability to communicate clearly and transparently makes it impossible to establish a proper dialogue. What follows – minor ambiguities and misunderstandings pile up until conflict erupts.

Another reason for the emergence of conflicts in the team are cultural differences that affect cooperation in the group. For example, Germans can be considered representatives of a monochronous culture – they work according to a strict schedule, do not like change and lateness. At the other extreme we will place representatives of polychronic culture (for example, Italians), who are more flexible, preferring to work according to their own rhythm, rather than worrying about the schedule. So when a team includes people who like to work differently, it can be difficult to find a common work style that suits everyone. 

How to deal with conflict in a team?

Knowing the sources of conflict in the team helps eliminate disagreements more easily and quickly. A good solution is to assign tasks to employees individually to suit their work culture. However, at the same time we should emphasize that in teamwork the most important thing is not individual needs and ambitions, but the realization of a certain goal. Therefore, it is worth jointly establishing rules on what can and cannot be done during teamwork. Let’s also not avoid talking directly about our feelings, and learn to name the emotions that arise during work.

Conflicts should also be treated as an opportunity to learn something. Sometimes it’s enough to change our perspective and not look at a disagreement as a conflict, but an opportunity to look at the same situation from different sides. When we change our attitude and approach to the divergence of team members’ views, we will find that differing opinions help us to go beyond our comfortable and often established pattern of thinking.

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