Resolving Workplace Conflict with Emotional Intelligence: Why Is It Important?

Managing a diverse workplace, while rewarding, comes with its challenges. No matter how strong and cohesive the employee relationships may seem, every person on the team carries a unique personality, stemming from their respective cultures and backgrounds.

It creates an abundance of views, ideas, and professional skills that the business with an inviting culture can greatly benefit from. Yet, even with the employees’ best intention to work toward a common goal, getting into conflicts is an inevitable part of the process. 

Types Of Conflict Resolution: Why Approach Matters? 

Whenever an argument occurs, it is only natural for people to resort to strict defensive tactics. However, given a professional setting, this approach can be quite destructive. It can not only temporarily affect productivity and morale, but contribute to creating a hostile environment for the employees. As a result, the long-term effects would not only hurt the people involved but the team as a whole or even the company at large.

That’s why it is important how you and other employees view and approach disagreements. It will define whether the work environment will only endure the negative consequences or become more resilient and cooperative. 

Ensuring that employees perceive arguments as something that can bring the team together rather than divide requires strong conflict resolution skills from HR managers and the parties involved. 

Here’s why emotional intelligence plays a crucial part in conflict mediation. The ability to understand, communicate and manage your own emotions concerning those of others is necessary to resolve conflicts in the workplace in an appropriate and effective manner.

Developing and maintaining this level of self-awareness might seem challenging at first. Yet it will allow you and your team to view conflict resolution as “teamwork”, resulting in better communication and a harmonious work environment for everyone. 

How to Improve Conflict Resolution Skills With Emotional Intelligence?

At Performica we believe that great employees do not shy away from conflict, but take pride in their strong conflict resolution skills. With that in mind, we have selected helpful tips and tricks on how and where to apply emotional intelligence when addressing conflict at work. 

Focus on the issue at hand

When it comes to work-related arguments, it is essential not to take them personally. It requires effort to separate yourself from the work you do, but it allows you to take in multiple perspectives without feeling attacked or criticized. Conflicting opinions are an essential part of any creative process as long as you don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment.

Once all aspects of the conflict refrain from making personal remarks, it will be much easier to perceive the obstacles and conflicting opinions that prevent the work from being done. Try to empathize with the other person’s point of view, not jump to conclusions or assumptions, and see how to manage the situation with a minimal negative impact on the outcome.

Working together as a team is essential to resolve conflicts in the workplace, and it helps to have a clear understanding of everyone’s skills and responsibilities. After all, the task at hand should always remain the ultimate goal within any work environment. The workplace serves as a platform for productive and mutually-beneficial collaboration, not for highlighting personal ego. 

Avoid being defensive

Defensiveness is a natural reaction whenever we find ourselves in a conflicting situation. Advocating for your opinions and ideas can be a good strategy to make sure they contribute to the creative process. Yet if expressed bluntly, defensiveness can escalate conflicts, making them more challenging to resolve. Always keep in mind that the issue is not about you personally but rather about the work and the task at hand.  

Foster an open conversation to accommodate and acknowledge the other person’s concerns to the best of your abilities, avoiding blaming or attacking them. Opening up to various points of view and ways will allow you and your teammates to come up with a better solution together without placing anyone in the wrong. 

Practicing mindfulness can be beneficial in reducing defensive behavior in a conflict for all parties. By focusing on the present moment and reflecting on how your words and actions may influence the conversation, you can mediate your teammate’s reactions with emotional intelligence and involve them in a more positive dialogue. If you find this task particularly challenging, don’t shy away from outside help if available. 

Introducing a colleague who is trained in team conflict resolution can be very helpful in getting an objective third-party perspective.

Keep your emotions under control

When arguments get heated, it is easy to give way to emotions that can impede constructive dialogue. Don’t let them overshadow your best judgment so as not to step out of your boundaries. 

Use your emotional intelligence to deal with any work-related issues. Step back, take a few deep breaths, and come back with a statement made with a cold head. It’s also essential to recognize the other person’s emotions throughout the conflict resolution process and make sure they follow suit in constructive dialogue. 

It’s important to recognize that all team members ultimately share the goal of fostering a positive and productive work environment. No one benefits from ongoing conflict or tension in the workplace, and all team members have a vested interest in finding a resolution that restores peace and cooperation. Keeping this shared goal in mind, team members can work together to find constructive and mutually beneficial solutions even amid conflict.

Active listening

Remember that listening is not just about hearing the words; it’s about understanding the emotions behind them. Emotional intelligence best practices for conflict resolution list managing emotions as an essential skill to conflict resolution at work. 

Engage in active listening and avoid interrupting or reacting impulsively to what the other side has to say. Make eye contact, nod your head, show empathy, and be fully present in the conversation. 

Clarify what the other person is saying by summarizing their points and asking questions to get to the bottom of the problem. This will demonstrate that you take their concerns regarding the dispute seriously and value their input.

Be clear and concise when communicating

Dealing with work-related arguments is a difficult task in itself, so don’t overcomplicate. Express your thoughts and feelings clearly and directly, allowing the other person to do the same. Use “I” statements to explain how the situation is affecting you and avoid blaming or attacking the parties involved. 

Repeat what you heard to ensure you understood the other person’s perspective correctly — be clear and concise in your communication to prevent any more misunderstandings. It’s important to remember that conflict negotiation is a two-way street, and both parties need to be willing to listen and compromise in order to find a solution that works for everyone involved.

Seek common ground

Look for areas where you and the other person can agree and build upon them. Prioritize the impact of the argument on productivity more than on your personal gains. Focus on finding a solution that meets the requirements of the task at hand. With emotional intelligence, it is possible to work out a way in which conflicting opinions contribute to the work process and provide results for the business and the team.

Which is in itself a win-win outcome provided you take on an open-minded and flexible approach to the situation. Remember that seeking common ground can help to reduce tension and get all parties back to the harmonious work process with a more positive attitude. 

Follow up after the discussion

The first step would be running a check-in session after the conflict discussion with your colleagues. See it as not dragging on this stressful process longer rather as an important step at making sure no point is left unheard.

Follow-ups show that you are committed to resolving the conflict and maintaining positive relationships with the other person and within the collective as a whole. It also can be a great opportunity to show your appreciation for their time and effort to work towards a resolution.

The second step would be analyzing the discussion and the outcome. Consider if there are any additional steps you can take to ensure that the solution is successful. If appropriate, think of introducing training for conflict resolution to prevent any subdued tensions from leading to more similar disputes in the future.

Discover Opportunities To Grow

Teams that embrace conflict and manage it with emotional intelligence create a genuinely thriving environment. Rather than avoiding conflict, these groups are willing to tackle it and work together to find a solution. By acknowledging and accepting different viewpoints, team members can avoid getting bogged down by ego-driven arguments and instead focus on finding common ground. This method encourages team members to discuss their various ideas, which can lead to more creativity and innovation.

When teams learn to manage conflicting opinions productively, they can unlock new solutions that they may not have discovered otherwise. By viewing conflict as an opportunity for growth and learning, team members can improve their problem-solving skills and collaborative abilities. 

Apart from the benefits of constructive conflict resolution, it is also critical to develop a culture of psychological safety. Team members are more inclined to offer their views openly and honestly when they feel secure and encouraged in expressing their perspectives. This can result in more effective communication, higher trust, and overall better outcomes.