Workplace conflict: Managing difficult situations respectfully, professionally and productively – Our event last night

By: Marta Evans, Learning & Change Consultant, 6 July 2017 Categories: Culture & engagement

“Conflict is neither good nor bad. Properly managed, it is absolutely vital.” Kenneth Kaye

Last night we held our annual networking event. This year’s subject was ‘Workplace conflict: Managing difficult situations respectfully, professionally and productively’. The topic generated a lot of interest as we’ve all seen conflict situations in our jobs, and most of us would like to get better at dealing with conflict when it arises.

We were delighted to be joined by a guest panel of professionals from diverse business backgrounds: Fiona Coleman, Managing Director of Create-i Ltd, a facilitator and business coach specialising in women’s leadership, Jackie Staunton, HR Director for BMJ Group and Chris Howell from People Systems Thinking Ltd, a Relationship Systems Coach. Guests attending the event were encouraged to contribute to the discussion and ask questions of the panel to tap into their experience surrounding the topic.

A quick poll of our guests highlighted that we have conflict with our managers/bosses most frequently which is also often seen as more serious than conflict we have with our peers or more junior members of staff.

It was particularly interesting to hear that our attitude to conflict influences how we approach a difficult discussion so it is important to ask ourselves: “What is my attitude to conflict? Do I view it as a bad thing? What are my true motivations in this situation? What am I ultimately trying to achieve?”

Open and honest communication is also key to resolving conflict - underpinned by some examples from the rugby field by Michael Parnaby, captain of the Rangers7 team.

Top tips from our panel included:

  • Address conflict as early as possible to prevent it from escalating
  • Try to understand other personalities and where they come from when addressing conflict
  • Focus on common ground and shared goals and
  • Celebrate differences – healthy debate and different ideas should be part of our team culture.

The discussion continued over drinks and canapes when guests shared their own experiences of managing conflict at work, whether it be with their superiors, peers or subordinates. It was great to see that some of them were already thinking about trying a new approach to address a difficult situation using the tips discussed.

The Juniper team would like to say a huge “thank you” to the panellists and the Professional Women’s Network (PWN) London for sharing their experiences and supporting the event. We would also like to extend our thanks to those who joined us and made the evening such a success.

If you are interested in continuing the discussion on conflict management, look out for the invitation to our next webinar when we’ll explore this topic further. Hope to catch up with you soon!