Got conflict? Yes! Now what?

Conflict handled well can build strong relationships and lead to better results. But it can feel more like a car wreck when handled poorly.  If you are experiencing conflict at work and hoping to avoid a crash, what can you do?

Depending on the type of conflict you are experiencing, there are resources for employees and managers within King County that you can use to shape conflict for success.

Personal  If you realize you are having a hard time managing your own emotions, stress level, or would like counseling to gain insight into how you can respond to others more effectively, contact the Employee Assistance Program.  Through confidential meetings, they can provide personal strategies and skills to help you work more effectively with others. 

Interpersonal  If you have an entrenched conflict with another person, you can work with a mediator from the Office of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Mediators provide a confidential setting that allows people to take on hard problems while going easy on each other. Mediators structure the conversation to allow people a chance to share, listen and explore issues that seemed too difficult to handle on their own.   They can help you identify underlying needs and interests that might keep you stuck, surface work style differences, and negotiate strategies for working more effectively together. The Office of ADR also provides conflict coaching when you need to gain insight and skills to work more effectively with a peer or supervisor toward collaborative solutions.

Teams  Sometimes it’s helpful to engage a team in a difficult conversation. The Office of ADR also provides facilitators to help groups through conflict, clarify group norms and expectations, and move forward together. They customize training to meet the group’s needs on topics such as Holding Difficult Conversations, Stopping Bullying Behaviors, and Creating a Culture of Feedback.

Organizational  If you are thinking more proactively about how to build conflict resilient groups and organizations, a great place to start is the online Teams and Organizational Development toolkit. If your organization needs more hands on guidance to align their vision, mission and purpose, or proactively build skills through training, contact kctraining@kingcounty.gov.  They also offer leadership development and coaching services to help people—managers, leads and employees—cultivate their leadership potential through targeted trainings and on the job development opportunities.

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