On thing is for sure, as a small business owner you are going to have to manage conflict at one point or another. Staff, clients and suppliers are all links in the communication chain that are bound to break down and cause conflict. The trick is to be confident in your conflict management. While I am no expert, I do have a few tips to share.
Conflict Management – 3 Simple Tips
This is the single biggest tip I can give. As a small business owner, clients, staff and suppliers are needing you to be that one person that can answer the questions. Now that may not always be possible but, having the confidence to say, “I’m not sure, let me look into it and get back to you” will certainly hold you in higher regard than making something up on the spot. Small business owners need to be problem solvers, they need to be confident in what they are saying and follow through on any promised actions. Being confidence, creates confidence. In other words when you are confident in your dealings with conflict, your client, staff or suppliers will be confident in your actions.
In any situation in which there is conflict, there will be a heightened sense of emotion. To successfully manage conflict, remaining calm is paramount. This will empower you, but also lessen the impact of a potential bully or someone speaking out of turn or with disrespect. Focus on your breathing, keep it slow and deep rather than letting it become short and fast. The extra oxygen you will be receiving to your brain will assist in keeping your thoughts calm and clear.
After conflict has occurred, your memory of the situation will begin to fade. It is essential that you document as much of the situation as possible. This will assist you later in many ways, from creating the insurance you may need, to showing a pattern of behavior. Sometimes these records can become admissible in court if it is needed to prove a point. Regardless of the result of the conflict, documenting the proceedings will be most beneficial. I would encourage you as a small business to look over the documentation to see what lessons the business can take from the situation as well. Often a break down in communication can be spotted long before it has created an issue and with some reasonable reflection the situation may be prevented from happening again.
I am a firm believer in conflict bringing about the opportunity of change. Even in situations in which you are not at fault, there is always a tipping point that can be avoided and therein will lie the lesson.
Have you had much practice at dealing with conflict? Ever had any conflict management training?