Are you someone who fears conflict in a workplace and would rather stay quiet because your social anxiety wouldn’t let you speak? Well don’t worry because this article will teach you how to overcome fear of organizational conflict. By the time you’re done reading, you will have a clear idea about how to conquer your fear.
We all fear something, and that is nothing to be ashamed of. Being fearful of things around us is a part of human nature, it helps us remain cautious and enables us to make decisions. People who claim to not fear anything are just better at hiding their emotions than others. So, don’t envy such people instead, always work on being a better version of yourself at every step of the way.
As we said, fear isn’t necessarily bad; however, if it starts to hinder your true potential, it must be trounced. This is especially true in situations when your fear starts to affect how you deal with others on a daily basis and how and if you choose to express yourself around others.
People who suffer from fear of conflict have a hard time speaking up about their opinions. In a workplace setting, this may prevent them from fulfilling their responsibilities. In addition, it will continuously erode their self-esteem and make them question every decision they make.
Thus, if you’re someone who suffers from fear of conflict, it is essential to overcome it to allow yourself to build healthier and constructive relationships with your team members at work.
Now the question is how to overcome fear of organizational conflict. This article will share with you a few tips and strategies that will help you defeat your fear overtime. As long as you remain resolute and dedicated towards enabling your true potential, you will achieve your goal and will stick with it in the long run. So, let’s get started.
Why do you fear conflict?
We all vary in terms of how we experience and express strenuous emotions. When it comes to conflict, our past experiences, including our interactions with the people closest to us, can impact how comfortable we are expressing our needs and how open we are to hearing someone else out. These experiences can also shape the beliefs we have about conflict itself, which impacts our willingness to engage in conversations we might perceive as threatening.
When we are stressed about other things that are going on in our lives, we also have less room to navigate and cope with conflict. Stress has a cumulative effect, and unless we develop ways to cope with bigger stressors, it can have a dramatic impact on our ability to tolerate and manage conflict, especially at a workplace.
We all have assumptions and ideas about what conflict means for us and our relationship with others. Many times, these beliefs contribute to and maintain our fear of conflict and make it difficult and sometimes impossible to have productive conversations.
As a starting point, it is essential to acknowledge what our beliefs about conflict are and how these might be getting in the way of our relationships and well-being. Do you feel like asserting your needs will undoubtedly cause conflict? Are you afraid that conflict will lead to the end of an important relationship? Does it feel like experiencing conflict means that you’ve done something wrong? Identifying your beliefs about conflict and questioning whether these are justified won’t make conflict disappear, but it will make it much easier to navigate through when it comes up.
Being in conflict with others in a workplace
Conflict can be even harder to manage if the person you are interacting with has a different style of communication and conflict management . If you have come across a situation where the other person seems to thrive off of conflict, pointing out the way in which they are making the situation worse usually only escalates things. The key here is to only focus on and acknowledge your own emotions, reaction and experiences.
If at any point you feel like the conversation is becoming too heated, ask for a break. Just be sure to tell them that doesn’t mean you’re avoiding them or the issue at hand. State that you would like to re-engage at a later time with a clearer mind.
Fear of organizational conflict amongst women
Women around the world tend to be apologetic for voicing their needs or opinions, especially in a professional setting. And, unfortunately, fear of being or starting a conflict can hold many women back from taking due credit for their success and contribution towards any task in a workplace. At the same time, it stops them from pursuing new opportunities and reaching their true potential.
It is important to note that asserting our requirements doesn’t always lead to conflict and that conflict isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Keeping this in mind will allow you to speak up in a professional setting and achieve your goals.
Nonetheless, a significant power imbalance exists in a work setting which makes it difficult to speak up or engage in conversations that might result in conflict. However, at no point should women feel as if they cannot or should not talk about issues such as harassment, bullying, or any other inappropriate behavior.
But in weighing the pros and cons, women might sometimes choose to overlook differences of opinions. If you at any point feel like you tend to avoid expressing your needs or perspectives, ask yourself, why you are doing so. Look at it as your own personal decision rather than something that is out of your control. This will make it easier for you to take the right decision and will allow you to overcome your fear of conflict.
How to overcome fear of organizational conflict?
Now that you know why you may fear conflict, let’s move towards how you can tackle this issue in a constructive way. Following these tips will enable you to handle conflict in a better way along with eradicating your fear of being in conflict in the first place. Let’s find out what these tips are.
Being nice is an outdated strategy
At some point in your life or career, you probably got burned by conflict, and felt shamed or criticized. When that happens, we often decide to be accommodating rather than ever feeling that way again. We choose safety, peace, and harmony over speaking up.
However, this approach will not do you any good. Pushing your issues under the carpet doesn’t mean they won’t come out. In fact, they can expose themselves at the worst times and you definitely don’t want that.
If you fear relieving the emotions you felt that one time you were put down during a conflict, now is the time to let go of the past. Not all conversations and experiences are the same. Similarly, it is essential that you don’t view conflict as a game that you can win or lose. The idea here is to express your opinions and if someone doesn’t agree with them,don’t take it personally and do your best to help them understand your perspective.
In the current competitive world, there are only a few saints out there who will appreciate your strategy to “just be nice.” Most people are ready to take advantage of nice people, any chance they get. So unless you want to be that person, you will have to let go of this strategy and be assertive where necessary.
Conflict is inevitable in workplaces and you will have to embrace that and work on how you will handle conflict in a constructive way.
Trust yourself and your team members
When teams are founded on trust, conflict becomes the pursuit of truth. Each member contributes to creating the best possible answer to the problems at hand. This means things will get uncomfortable, and different perspectives will clash. But that’s a good thing.
If team members never make one another uncomfortable in pursuit of the best solutions, then that means assumptions aren’t being challenged, and the way it has always been is the way it will continue to be, without question. If your workplace setting is similar, you are unlikely to achieve your team and organizational goals.
When in a workplace, you need to think about more than just yourself and what you want. Focus on what your job requires, question if your avoidant attitude will have any negative implications on your organization and if yes, it is your duty to speak up and turn a blind eye to your fear of conflict.
When you have been working with your team for a long time, you should have enough trust to be able to express your opinions to them. And it is highly unlikely that they will take your opinions negatively since the very purpose of setting up a team is giving everyone a chance to bring their own ideas and perspectives to the table.
In your professional life, the repercussions of what you do or do not do have a direct impact on others around you. For example, if you see someone bullying another person in your workplace but choose not to tell someone about it due to fear of conflict, that has an impact on the person who was being bullied and the overall environment of your workplace.
Take steps to develop enough courage to discuss issues with your team members if not other people in the office. Even if things don’t turn out the way you wanted, don’t give up. You have the right to express your opinion and you should use this right to the fullest.
Positive conflict is an opportunity for growth
Most people fear conflict. It makes sense, we are conditioned to believe that conflict is always negative and riddled with aggression. However, it doesn’t have to be that way, though. In fact, positive conflict is vital for learning, adapting, and growing.
“Conflict is the beginning of consciousness,” said Mary Esther Harding, an associate of Carl Jung. It awakens us to the need for change. Once we recognise the need, it is up to us to respond in a way that is as creative and constructive as possible, irrespective of the responses of others.Thus, the best way to overcome fear of conflict is to see it as an opportunity for growth.
Here are a few reasons why conflict can be positive:
1) It opens up our eyes to new ideas
Conflict is highly useful as a creative, fine-tuning instrument to our own ideas. Hearing another person’s perception helps to mold and clarify our own perception, either making us more clear and committed to our original position, or the conflict will open our eyes to new perspectives on our ideas. Conflict is an effective vehicle for the generation of new solutions, gaining trust and developing deeper agreements
2) Teaches us to be flexible
If we are in conflict we are not only going to have others adjusting to us and our perspectives, but we will also be adjusting to others and their perspectives. Humility and openness are two admirable qualities to come from conflict. We have to discipline ourselves to not always have to be right.
3) Teaches us to listen
The key to any successful conflict resolution is the ability to listen. Most are so focused on litigation that they have zero ability to listen; their only desire is to win. Successful relationships and negotiations cannot be forged with defensive, dominating people. Listening takes patience and the discipline to control our impulses to speak. It takes being able to put ourselves and our thoughts to the side so we can fully take another perspective in.
4) Helps practice communication skills
Communication is a skill that requires self-control, patience and intelligence. It requires that we be real and authentic. If we back down from conflict we end up being disingenuous. We end up not communicating our perspective out of some form of fear.
Conflict is hard for everyone, yet the more we engage in conflict the better a communicator we become. This is not to say we should go out and create conflict, but the intention is not to be afraid to participate in conflict when it arises. Deal with it and be open to the element of surprise.
5) Helps us set limits
People need to know where we start and they stop. Conflict is the perfect place to set limits and make new agreements which fall in line with the respect and integrity of all involved. Without respect and mutuality successful connections cannot develop or flourish.
As we communicate needs and boundaries we allow others to learn a great deal about us and how we work. We also learn a lot about ourselves, making us that much more successful. Conflict teaches us when to back off and when to activate for ourselves by asking someone else to back off.
6) You can practice emotional control
We do not have to be so emotional all the time. If we want to be taken seriously we must approach conflict seriously. We must learn to remain calm and to use the least amount of words to get our point across, all the while remaining firm and flexible when setting our way. Perseverance and self-control are the keys to successful conflict resolutions. When we are in control of ourselves people can better relate to us, count on us and trust our intentions.
List down what you will gain from speaking up
On the back of the same piece of paper, write down what you could achieve by speaking up: your relationships might improve, your problems might get solved, or you might become happier. Be specific about the things you stand to gain.
Every time you’re tempted to stay quiet, read over both lists. Identifying the logical, rational reasons you should confront someone—even when it feels scary—can boost your courage and help you do it.
Reconsider assumptions about confrontation
Fear of confrontation is often based on false assumptions. Thoughts like “Confrontation is wrong” or “telling someone I disagree with them will ruin our relationship” will only fuel your fear. Whether you learned to walk on eggshells because you once had a difficult boss, or your fear of confrontation goes all the way back to childhood, check your assumptions.
In reality, confrontation is healthy. There are many kinds—and assertive—ways to speak up and express your opinion, and doing so might improve the situation more than you ever imagined.
Take baby steps
Like any muscle you build, it takes practice and repetition before you can ratchet up your abilities. Start with easier situations first and address the conflict retrospectively
Conflict is more of an art than a science. What works well in one circumstance might not fly in another. But with practice, you’ll be able to recognize when to speak up, how to do it, and the best ways to express yourself effectively.
Consider your efforts a work in progress and take small steps. Just like any fear, facing a fear of confrontation gets easier with practice. The more you speak up for yourself, the less frightening it becomes.
It is never too late to overcome your fears. Use the above listed strategies to overcome your fear of conflict. This starts with acknowledging the reasons why you are afraid of conflict. The journey to finding the answer and resolving the issues related to this fear may take some time and effort, but it will definitely be worth it in the end. Hence, don’t give up too early and remain resolute, you shall get to your goal.