By Anne Clews, UK TetraMap licensee

Whether you are involved in managing others’ performance, working in teams or dealing with customers – conflict will occur. How we deal with it is critical.

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This month, I facilitated a number of training programmes designed to equip leaders with confidence and techniques to manage conflict and confrontation. When asked to share workplace examples, I was surprised at the number of leaders who did not have the confidence or skills to handle difficult situations. Faced with confrontation, they chose the route of avoidance or found themselves in a head-on collision.

Both avoiding and mishandling conflict can be costly, not only in terms of escalating HR issues, but also to our own health and well-being.

Often conflict occurs when stakes are high and there is a difference of opinion. This is escalated as we tell ourselves a story (of what we believe is the truth) which in turn creates an emotion and causes us to act.  Most of us are well aware of the body’s stress responses of Fight, Flight, or Freeze. What many find difficult to do is STOP, take a step back, and allow our rational, logical brain to take over.  Our logical brain, if allowed, can give us an alternative story to consider and, in doing so, reduces the tension and stress we attach to our original interpretation of events.

Both avoiding and mishandling conflict can be costly, not only in terms of escalating HR issues, but also to our own health and well-being.

We have the ability to choose our response and can with practice learn how to act with courage and confidence, thus avoiding saying the wrong thing or nothing at all.

TetraMap allows us to recognise that we all have different perspectives and asks that we consider how others view the world. In addition, it asks that we value, in times of conflict, what is important to another person. TetraMap also encourages us to look at a situation and the intention behind the behaviour. In doing so, we can turn irritations into valuable insights.  There is certainly truth in the saying “the most difficult people can be our greatest teachers”.

Non-verbal conflict can easily occur with emails or texts where we only have words to go by. How often have you rattled off a response you later regret? We need to consider how our words will impact on the other person if we want our message to be received as we intended. As Buckminster Fuller said,”I made up my mind as a rule of communication that I wouldn’t care if I was not understood – so long as I was not misunderstood.”

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