Even the best of friends and the closest of business partners have a conflict at some point. Managers and supervisors spend 10-20 percent of their time resolving, investigating, or negotiating conflicts between their own employees. When consensus is needed between several decision-makers, coming to a consensus can seem impossible. Don’t give up! There are specific steps you can take to resolve differences and find a solution that works for everyone.
One of the best ways to resolve a conflict is to listen to what everyone has to say. Often conflicts arise when individuals don’t feel they’re being heard. If they feel marginalized or left out, they may dig their heels in, even when they largely agree with other players. To break down those walls, give each person the opportunity to speak their piece, without interruption. Listening can be difficult to do, especially if the situation is emotionally charged, but it is vital to building unity.
As you discuss each party’s point of view, ask questions to make clarifications and gather additional information. Invite other stakeholders to ask questions as well, but manage the exchange so it doesn’t dissolve into a he-said, she-said debate. At this point, everyone is fact finding. Asking good questions shows that you’ve been listening and that you care enough to deeply understand all sides of an issue.
As you listen to everyone, pay attention to commonalities. What are the points everyone can agree on? What outcome is everyone hoping for? Building on commonalities can start to generate a sense of unity as everyone sees that they do have a shared interest in reaching a consensus.
This isn’t just a trendy t-shirt! When you’re trying to build consensus it’s important that you keep calm and don’t take things personally. Don’t get drawn into side issues or take things people say in the heat of the moment seriously. If you are respectful and professional, people will feel as though they can trust you.
You may find yourself playing multiple roles including mediator, coach, and counselor in order to find consensus. These soft skills, as they’re called, are as important as technical knowledge. GSX Ventures attorneys are skilled negotiators who can help their clients make the best choices for everyone involved in a project. Call us today to discuss how we can assist you.