HR Management & Compliance

Train Supervisors on 5 Keys for Preventing Conflict

“The key to managing conflict isn’t just about pushing them to resolution, but also to learn how to have nicer conflicts,” said Tim Scudder, CEO of Personal Strengths USA and coauthor of Have a Nice Conflict: A Story of Finding Success and Satisfaction in the Most Unlikely Places (

“As one set of conflicts is resolved, others will take their place, so it’s important to learn how to make conflicts productive and positive experiences, instead of allowing them to distract us from our goals and disrupt our lives.”

Scudder’s five keys to prevent conflict include:

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  1. Anticipate. Anticipating conflict starts with knowing who you’re dealing with. Then ask yourself how various people might view the same situation differently. When two or more people see things differently, there is the potential for conflict. If you can figure that out, you have a good shot at steering clear of it.
  1. Prevent. Preventing conflict is really all about the deliberate, appropriate use of behavior in your relationships. A well-chosen behavior on your part can prevent conflict with another person. But you need to prevent conflict in yourself sometimes, too, and that might have more to do with choosing your perceptions than with choosing your behaviors.
  1. Identify. There are three basic approaches in conflict: rising to the challenge, cautiously withdrawing, or wanting to keep the peace. When you can identify these approaches in yourself or in others, you are empowered to handle the situation more productively.
  1. Manage. Managing conflict has two components: managing yourself and managing the relationship. Managing conflict is about creating the conditions and empowering others to manage themselves out of the emotional state of conflict. It is also about managing yourself out. Managing yourself in conflict can be as easy as taking some time to see things differently.
  1. Resolve. To create movement toward resolution, we need to show the other people a path back to feeling good about themselves. When they feel good about themselves, they are less likely to feel threatened and are free to move toward a compromise and resolution.

“Unresolved or poorly managed conflict costs companies in ways they can’t even calculate,” he added. “Lost institutional memory, low productivity, bad morale, [and] high turnover all cost real companies real dollars. On the other hand, well-managed conflict can not only prevent all those losses, but it can also promote higher productivity and a stronger bottom line. So, the end result will not only be fewer conflicts, but also nicer ones with positive results.”

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