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Quick tips for conflict management for project managers

Julie Lord
 


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No matter what project you are working on or the industry you find yourself in there is always a very good chance that you will encounter some form of conflict. You need to use any skills that you have amassed in order to resolve any conflicts as and when they arise. This can be difficult to do sometimes, so we have put together a short guide to help.

Breathe

Conflicts happen so take a deep breath, pause and consider your next steps. This will help you to be calm and give the conflict a professional and objective consideration in order to find the best solution. Once you have decided how to proceed, talk to the relevant people and put a clear plan of action in place.

Be professional

Whether the conflict happened in private or in public remain professional and take it out of the public arena to resolve it. Encourage those around the conflict to move on whilst it is resolved, it is much easier to resolve an issue without an audience who are just there to get involved needlessly.

What is the best method for dealing with the issue?

There are many different ways in which you can discuss a conflict with someone but in order to be able to see the bigger picture in person or at the very least via video call will allow you to read body language and see exactly how people are feeling.

Email or even chat can often allow people to be a little bit more careful of their emotions, and of course, it is easier to refer back to later if necessary.

Allow people to have their say

Create an opportunity for the individual or team involved to be able to have their say. Give clear boundaries to the conversation, this is not about apportioning blame but finding out exactly what happened and that might mean piecing together several peoples accounts to get an accurate picture. You might find that doing this is a really good way of clearing the air.

Repeat

Make sure you repeat back what you understand the issues to be, this will give your team a chance to correct anything that you have misunderstood so that you have the full picture. This will embed the necessary information in your mind and show your team you have been listening fully.

“I” Statements

It can be very easy to place blame when conflicts come up. Be sure to avoid that by using “I” statements, this will help you to avoid placing blame on any particular person, whether a project management apprentice or otherwise and also avoid the focus on both reactions and emotions. Take charge of your emotions and ensure you do not put others on the defensive.

It might be out of your hands

Unfortunately, there are times when a situation can be impossible to resolve, and you need to accept that the only way forward is to put it to one side and get on with other things. This is something that you should have covered as part of your project management qualifications .

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