Why Conflict Management Skills Matter

Achievers who want to advance their careers often take classes in generic things like people skills or public speaking that actually do very little to push them up the career ladder. While it is admirable and wise to expand your skills portfolio, it is important that anybody wanting to improve themselves choose skills with transferability and relevance: skills like conflict management.

Taking a course in conflict management will not turn you into Kofi Annan overnight, but what it will do is give you concrete skills that will help you no matter what career path you are on. The history of business is the history of conflicting interests and mediation: to best get what you want you need to be able to manage a situation in your favour. Subtly but surely, that’s what conflict management can do for you.

Here are just some of the reasons why conflict management skills matter, and why they can help you in any line of work.

It’s not just for lawyers

The words ‘conflict management’ often make people think of high-powered lawyers sitting in an office arguing over the minutiae of a deal. While that is an example of where conflict management skills might come in handy, is it certainly not the only such example. Whether you are an office clerk, a teacher or a mechanic, there will be some instance in your professional life when you will need to know how to manage tension-filled situations. Give and take is part of every single business and trade, and conflict management skills will help you shape the equation in your favour.

The personal is professional

Conflict management skills might sound like they are just for use in a profession setting, but in reality the methods you learn can actually help you in your personal life as well. Whether you are having a disagreement with your father or your flatmate, conflict management skills can help you keep your cool and find a middle way to settle problems in a way that suits you. As the saying goes, anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die: it is more productive to resolve tension rather than hold a grudge because the latter will only bring you more stress and grief.

‘Conflict’ is multidimensional

Conflict is not always as direct as a debate or argument: often the most complicated conflicts are the unspoken tensions that are part and parcel of office life. Conflict management skills are not always about straightforward mediation but about helping you bring tensions to the surface in a manageable way so that they can be dealt with before they boil over.

Getting what you want and what you need

Every good debater knows when to cede ground and when to march on, and the same applies to conflict management. Conflict management skills will not make every situation fall into your favour because almost all situations involve compromise. However if you know how to play the game, you are more likely to be able to come to a conclusion that works well for you.

About the author:
Guest post by Kate Simmons, freelance writer and occasional blogger on leadership skills, management training and topics related to HR. In case you’re interested in more about conflict resolution, check out the training course at conflictres.acu.edu.


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