Human Resources

Ending the Cycle of Conflict

by Akshay Nanavati

In any situation involving two or more people (including in the workplace), there is the potential for conflict. Career coach Akshay Nanavati says that conflict is cyclical, but it’s always possible for coworkers to break the cycle and work together productively.

Nanavati, creator of coaching program Existing2Living, has received training from International Coach Federation-accredited institution Accomplishment Coaching as well as Jack Canfield’s Train the Trainer program.

At the core of any type of conflict is the objectification of another human being. This is as true in the workplace as it is in any other facet of life. The moment we stop viewing our coworkers as people, confirmation bias will ensure that we find any and all reasons to validate our objectification of that person. This becomes a downward cycle where we begin to value conflict over possible resolution.

If my fellow employee does something small to irritate me, I start to dislike him or her. Once that belief becomes implanted into my mind, I will then start to find other reasons to validate that belief. Now, no matter what that person does, I will interpret it in a manner that validates my belief. Inevitably, that person will eventually sense my dislike for them, come to feel the same way about me, and the cycle will continue.

There are many ways to end this conflict cycle. We must learn to see the other person as a human being with fears, frustrations, dreams, and aspirations just like us. There are several ways to go about doing this, all of which will lead to successful conflict resolution in the workplace, ensuring a harmonious environment.

Utilize the Driving Forces of Human Behavior

Pain and pleasure are the two driving forces of all human behavior, and they can be used as tools for shedding objectification. These are framed in the context of suffering and play. Sports unite these two forces and are a great way for people to bond.

A team that plays together and suffers together, stays together. This is exactly why Marines become brothers after boot camp and why sports-related teambuilding activities are often suggested to maintain strong relationships between coworkers.

Create Genuine Dialogue

In most conversations, if you pay attention, you will notice that people don’t really listen, they just wait for their chance to talk. Instead, coworkers should practice truly listening to each other, especially to the emotions that may come out.

A simple four-step process to do this is: label, acknowledge, ask, and create. In conversation, label the emotion you think the other person is experiencing, acknowledge it, then ask them about it.

This might look something like: “I understand you are frustrated about this project right now, what about it specifically frustrates you? What can we create together to address your frustration and solve this problem?”

In tomorrow’s Advisor, Nanavati explains two more keys to creating workplace harmony.




1 thought on “Ending the Cycle of Conflict”

  1. Conflict can lead to bullying. Bullying is something that does not get appropriate attention for many reasons, like embarrassment, stress and loss of dignity. People in a position of some authority can assert themselves to the point that they are not fulfilling their own responsibilities, obsessed with targeting an individual. They initiate conflict to create stress and difficulty so that you eventually get fed up and leave. Unfortunately jobs are not that easy to come by these days so there will be weeks, months of suffering until that break! Conflict for me has led to stress, poor sleep and certainly the suppression of ugly thoughts. No, I’m not losing my mind, I just need to find another job. In the meantime, I hang tough! Signed, seasoned professional.

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