Is Conflict Management An Essential Management Skill? – Part 3 of 4

This is part 3 of the 4 part series on Conflict Management & how is it an essential management skill.  One of the important steps in conflice management is to Identify the true source of the conflict. 

When you are feeling in a calmer and more objective frame of mind, turn your attention to identifying the source of the conflict. Most of the time you’ll find that the topic of disagreement belongs in one of four main areas:

A. Power struggles based on ego: Some people respond to the demands of their egos by needing to have and exert power. Don’t take it personally. Accept that this is their story and it’s not about you. By disentangling yourself from someone else’s emotional needs, you’ll be able to listen more objectively to what they have to say. You might even feel centered enough to respond to the other person with empathy. While this is not easy to do (and takes practice), responding with acceptance and understanding may encourage the other person to set aside their ego and join with you to solve the conflict. Through management training, participants get the opportunity to learn and practice these types of new responses to conflict.

B. Poor Communication
Communication is deeply influenced by factors like language, gender, culture, age, skills, personal experience, etc. With so many distinctive ways of communicating, it is inevitable that conflicts will arise due to misunderstandings in communication. An essential cornerstone to all our management training seminars is practicing and learning effective communication skills.

To raise the level of your management skills, always be aware of the challenges of communication and how easy it is for us to misunderstand one another. When addressing a disagreement with another party(s), be sure to ask yourself what you would like to get from the discussion. Then ask the other party(s) what they want to get from it. Be aware of your assumptions and check them out. Exercise great curiosity about what the other person wants to communicate. Be that person’s ally and you both will benefit from your good intentions to bridge communication gaps.

C. Personality Differences
How many times have we been miffed at someone because they seemed just too different from us? When personality differences produce conflict it would be worth your while to invest some time and a little money in searching out a personality or behavioral styles assessment. There are many, including the well-known Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator. The basic benefit of these inventories is the reminder that people differ in how they approach life. These assessments help people understand their own personality styles and how they can work with co-workers whose personalities and temperaments are naturally different from their own.

D. Differing Needs – (What’s in it for me?)
“What’s in it for me?” is a question that each of us naturally asks ourselves consciously or unconsciously. In our management training seminars we stress that, as managers, we must be aware that there are always needs in the picture or at stake. When there appear to be differing or opposing needs, first look to define what those needs are; what do you or the other/s truly want? Then, look to see what strategy options there are. Brainstorm until you run dry! Be extra creative! And negotiate from an attitude of win-win. Actively look for ways that will bring each of you more of what you want. If it feels like too much of a compromise is going on, step back and look for options that will bring greater mutual satisfaction.

Watch for Part 4 in this series on Management Skills and Conflict Management.  For more resources about how to increase your management skills through management training, managing change, or free reports on building team effectiveness, visit our website at: or learn about management training at


Adapted from Managing From The Inside Out by Jim Hornickel, Director Training and Development, Bold New Directions


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