Solving Team Conflict Through Communication: Part One

One of the key things to the success of every organisation is communication. Communication, either verbal or non-verbal is likely to be misunderstood by the parties that are involved as every workplace is made up of people from different backgrounds who interpret messages differently. 

David L. Austin  (1972), argues that organisational conflict is a disagreement between two or more individuals or groups, with each individual or group trying to gain acceptance of their vision or goals over others. This asserts that conflict in the organisation is inevitable, because team members may have diverse views or opinions on a subject matter. It is important to state that as much as conflict in the workplace may not be avoidable, making sure the conflict does not impact the organisation negatively should be ensured. Therefore, conflict management skills are one of the most sought-after skills among managers to help curb the negative impact of conflict. In our previous article, “The Importance of Effective Leadership Skills in Today’s Workplace“, we emphasised the need for communication skills in connecting with teams and propelling growth. Without any doubt, communication plays a major role in every conflict resolution process.

Conflict, An Opportunity or a Threat?

Conflict is inevitable in human nature, therefore, the question may not be necessarily about how to avoid it but rather how to manage conflict and turn a potential crisis into a productive discussion for the benefit of team members. Leaders with conflict management skills will identify conflict as a creative opportunity for innovation and change rather than an arduous challenge.

The Role of Communication in Conflict

As a leader, it is important to understand that there are numerous reasons conflict may occur in your workplace. Some of these reasons include opposing personalities, leadership style, company culture, ineffective communication, excessive workload, lack of employee motivation, poor work-life balance, and inadequate resources, amongst others. Whatever the case may be, the right communication skills play a vital role in the process as most conflicts are the results of ineffective communication. 

In this two-part article, we present five communication strategies to help leaders mitigate the impact and resolve conflict among team members. 

  1. Provide Open and Quick Response

Conflict is indeed unpleasant and most team leaders try to avoid the early signs or even water down the seriousness of the issues they are confronted with. According to Louis Pondy (1967), there are five stages of conflict: the Latent Stage, the Perceived Stage, the Felt Stage, the Manifest Stage and the Aftermath Stage. Leaders should identify conflict in the early stage and address the challenges confronting them swiftly and objectively as an “ignored conflict” is similar to a “burning fire”. While a controlled fire is useful, it becomes disastrous when left unmonitored. Start the conflict resolution process by having informal one-on-one discussions with team members to gain insight into the issue rather than making assumptions or taking a stance. By employing open and transparent communication without delay, you will prevent resentments that are likely to build up among the parties involved.

2. Active Listening

Active listening is one of the ways to clarify the source of conflict before it escalates. During conflict, tempers are usually high, and people would often want to be heard and their points well understood rather than to be ignored or shut down. By employing active listening skills, leaders will better understand the reasons behind actions, words and thoughts. Active listening requires you to go beyond the biological process of simply hearing words, into seeking meaning through verbal and non-verbal communication and providing the most appropriate feedback. This also aids leaders in understanding the actual cause of misunderstanding. Leaders are regarded as active listeners when they are fully present in a discussion by maintaining eye contact, asking relevant questions, taking notes and providing the most required advice to help solve the conflict.

Provide Open and Quick Response and Active Listening are the first two strategies to help leaders in mitigating conflict. In the second part of this article (to be published in the April Edition), we’ll be looking at Using “I” Statements, Recognising Differences and, Following up on Conflict.

Kickstart your career in analytics by joining the next Blossom Academy Fellowship program. Express interest at or email us at [email protected].

Blossom Team,

March 2023 Edition. 

Tags :
Share This :