Whether you’re at home or work, there’s one thing you can’t avoid: drama, and where there’s drama, you’re bound to find conflict. When humans refuse to listen and tolerate other perspectives, their words and glares can become missiles, and their egos can push them to fight or take flight. When this happens, miscommunication can push people against the wall, and they can easily form wrong conclusions and destructive outcomes.
Conflict usually flares when teams are stressed and working under pressure to meet tight deadlines, or when senior leaders with dominant personalities are not self-aware and may be pursuing their agendas instead of the best interests of the team.
But while destructive conflict is inevitable in any workplace, it’s also preventable. How leaders handle it can have a significant impact on their team’s productivity, morale, and overall success. As a leader with high emotional intelligence, you understand this simple rule and take proactive steps to navigate conflicts effectively.
Welcome to this month’s edition of Leading with Clarity, the leadership newsletter to help you thrive at work, maximize your leadership influence, and inspire others to be their best selves. To help you avoid destructive conflict in the workplace, let’s dive into the seven key strategies that leaders with high emotional intelligence do when faced with conflict.
You stay calm and composed
As a leader with high emotional intelligence, you understand the importance of staying calm and composed when faced with conflict and strive to build greater awareness of yourself and others. You try to recognize when your emotions easily escalate the situation to make things worse and understand the power of the pause, taking a deep breath to reflect, assess the situation, and then respond in a rational and measured way. You’re also comfortable that when you don’t have an answer, you can walk away gracefully and return to solve the problem when you have greater composure and more level-headedness to approach the situation with more calm.
You actively listen to others
Effective communication is critical in resolving conflicts. As a leader with high emotional intelligence, you actively listen to others, showing empathy and understanding and avoid interrupting or dismissing others’ perspectives. Instead, you take the time to understand their point of view and recognize that listening is a means to learn about others and a tool to lead with greater compassion.
You take responsibility
Leaders with high emotional intelligence understand the importance of taking responsibility for their part in the conflict. That’s why you don’t shy away from acknowledging your mistakes and are willing to make amends. By doing so, you role model the behaviour you expect from your team, creating a culture of accountability. This shows you can walk the walk and not simply pay lip service.
You focus on solutions, not blame
In a conflict, there are at least two parties. When you refuse to see the perspective of the other person, you’ll get stuck thinking your way is the only way. This promotes a culture of fear and blame where team members don’t feel comfortable speaking up and shuts out creativity and innovation. But when you remain open-minded and listen to different viewpoints, you can focus on finding a solution instead of assigning blame and encourage your team to do the same. In turn, you will be able to foster a collaborative workspace where everyone works together to find a way forward.
You build bridges, not walls
As a leader with high EQ, you recognize that conflict can create division and tension, which can be detrimental to the team’s overall success. One of your goals is to foster healthy and resilient relationships where you build bridges rather than walls between conflicting parties. So you work to bring people together, finding common ground and helping everyone see the bigger picture.
You remain optimistic
In the face of conflict, it can be easy to become pessimistic. But you can learn to remain optimistic, even in challenging situations, by inspiring your team to adopt a mindset of positivity and resilience to collaborate and achieve collective goals.
You seek to learn and grow
As a confident leader, you view conflict as an opportunity to learn and grow and recognize that every conflict provides a chance to improve communication, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. You use these experiences to become a better leader and to help your team develop and grow as well.
Bringing it all together
In conclusion, as a leader with high emotional intelligence, you handle conflict in a different way than those without it by staying calm and composed, actively listening to others, taking responsibility, focusing on solutions, building bridges, remaining optimistic, and seeking to learn and grow. By adopting these strategies, you help foster a culture of collaboration, accountability, and resilience that ultimately leads to greater success for your team and the organization.
Ask me how I can help you develop your emotional intelligence
If you want to learn about how these strategies can help you develop your emotional intelligence and achieve your goals, ask me about my Leading with Clarity Framework. Book your complimentary leadership breakthrough session now.
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