"You can't shake hands with a clenched fist"

Posted 16 March 2011 by

"You can't shake hands with a clenched fist." So said Indira Gandhi during negotiations over a border dispute in the early 1970s, according to the New York Times.

Conflict happens. And it happens regularly: according to our research, an average employee spends 2.1 hours a week dealing with it. In the UK alone, that translates to 370 million working days lost every year as a result of conflict in the workplace.

Many people approach conflict in the workplace as one of the worst things that can happen. In fact, we suggest the existence of conflict, and its management and resolution, can lead to innovation and exciting new developments. But done wrong it can waste even more time, and perhaps lead to negative outcomes. To make it worthwhile, we suggest the methodology, and the effort, of managing conflict at work needs to be channeled correctly.

So what's the best way to make something that is often seen as a potential derailer into something that's actually a good thing?

Business psychology offers a robust approach. In particular, the 'Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument' (aka the TKI) offers a practical framework and skills that you can use straight away positively to resolve conflict in a variety of situations with individuals and teams. The great thing about the TKI is you don't need to be qualified to use it - just buy the materials (and read them!) then hit the ground running.

However, if you want a bit more of an insight into the TKI and how best to use it, OPP is running a one-day course on how to manage conflict, and to get the best from it.

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