Leveraging Emotional Intelligence in Conflict Resolution
The ability to successfully navigate conflict is a critical skill in today’s fast paced world. The constant change that most organizations are undergoing to stay relevant in their marketplace brings new and inventive ways of doing things, which collides with proven methods and concepts that have led organizations to their current level of success. Adding to that we have emails, text messages, instant messages, tweets, posts, and others with the ability to be connected seemingly almost unlimited. Yet with that level of connection naturally come opportunities for miscommunication.
How important is conflict resolution as a skill to organizations today? A recent search on a leading job board www.indeed.com yielded over 60,000 jobs with salaries ranging from $30,000 to $100,000 a year that include the term conflict resolution.
Understandably at the heart of conflict we may have multiple competing ideas yet the common ground is found in both sides having a strong emotional connection to their perspective. The EQ-i 2.0® Emotional Intelligence Leadership Report is the source for some of the following ideas for leveraging emotional intelligence skills in times of conflict.
1. Listen to yourself with purpose
Emotional Self-Awareness is our ability to have an acute understanding of our emotions and the impact they have on us and those around us. Leverage this skill to provide greater clarity and recognition of our reactions, thoughts, and feelings regarding the conflict at hand.
- Does this increased focus provide new perspective?
- How is it has being handled thus far and what can be done to get through it?
- Identify specifically what frustrates you about it and also what positive elements exist.
- Remember, even though it may feel personal at times, the conflict is often not about us.
- Be determined to keep mindful of our emotions and work to keep the focus on the issue.
2. Timely expressions of yourself
During conflict our verbal and non-verbal emotional expressions are always in the limelight. While some situations call for instantly expressing ourselves, most require a more deliberate and controlled expression.
- Use the Emotional Expression skill to align your message, tone of voice, and body language for authentic expression.
- Along with the increased Emotional Self Awareness from #1, use Impulse Control skills to make a conscious decision to think through the outcome you expect from your expression before you share it.
3. Use Empathy in conflict resolution/management
Empathy is recognizing, understanding, and appreciating how other people feel. Empathy involves being able to articulate our understanding of another’s perspective and behaving in a way that respects others’ feelings.
- Use your Empathy skills as a tool to bring down the temperature of the situation. Listen to the other side attentively and genuinely—make it “their” time.
- Even if we disagree completely with the other side, find ways to express genuine understanding (e.g., how frustrating the situation must be for them; the amount of effort being dedicated; how much is at stake for them). Validation in this way can be the single most powerful tool to get others to pull back their defenses.
- If the conflict is within our own team ask the team to define what emotions, actions, behaviors, are appreciated and facilitate conversation and what emotions, actions or behaviors inhibit productive conversation.
4. Conflict Resolution or Conflict Management
Defining the goal of the scenario can present options for a path forward. Many times a final resolution or solution is not possible in the moment and managing the conflict is what’s required.
- Make the conscious decision to use Impulse Control skills and seek a most productive outcome and not be tempted by patches or short term fixes.
- The emotional intelligence skill of Problem Solving allows us to leverage our understanding of the emotions being experienced and use it as an opportunity to develop our team.
- Periods of conflict offer the potential for building trust through increased Interpersonal Relationship building, discovering Stress Tolerance strategies to build resilience, and using Optimism skills to positively guide teams to solutions of the conflict they experience.
Building our capabilities in Conflict Resolution / Management provides opportunity to be innovative, take risks, and increase productivity.
Emotional Intelligence is presented in many models today with the common focus of bringing a language or framework to define our emotions increasing greater self-understanding and the potential for more productive relationships with others. The model we use in our practice is the EQ-i 2.0® (Emotional Quotient Inventory), which is a global assessment, scientifically validated, and recognized by the American Psychological Association. The EQ-i 2.0® measures one's self-reported emotional potential across composites of Self-Perception, Self-Expression, Interpersonal, Decision Making, and Stress Tolerance.
At Leadership Call, LLC we believe understanding and managing our emotions is the critical skill in all successful people...it is "The Point of Leadership" ™
®EQ-i 2.0 is a trademark of Multi-Health Systems Inc.