How to spot signs of conflict before it escalates?
Signs of conflict will depend on the situation where it arises. In a workplace or with a business partner it could be obvious due to a heated argument but could be more subtle such as a lack of communication between co-workers, increased absences or an unexpected lack of motivation or performance from an employee. Reasons for the conflict may arise from issues in their personal life of which you are unaware.
It may be more difficult to spot in a client or customer because you may not see them regularly, especially with a new customer when you do not have a clear expectation of what you want from each other. Signs could include a lack of response as well as more obvious signs such as questioning your work or your bill.
Whatever the situation, the best reaction is to establish and maintain close contact with clients or your workforce and put in place easy channels to allow them to express any concerns easily, quickly and without repercussions. We tend to avoid asking clients if they are happy with our work for fear of rejection, but it is better to make contact at all stages and allow concerns to be addressed before they grow. And should the client (or employee) turn out to be the type who enjoys the power plays and manipulations and is not going to change, you can address that early if necessary by curtailing the relationship or not confirming a position after a probationary period. This, of course, requires having suitable contracts that give you that flexibility, but that is a subject for another day!
Who do you work with whose changed behaviour may be due to personal issues? Do you have a relationship or strategies which could encourage them to open up to you or a colleague? How can you strengthen all your business relationships? And indeed personal ones.
Fiona Monson is a business mediator and consultant and trainer in avoiding and resolving business disputes. She offers a FREE 30-minute consultation. Contact Fiona on 07786 252145 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Fiona Monson
Consultant: Conflict & Mediation
Fiona is a qualified chartered accountant, insolvency practitioner and civil and commercial mediator.
Fiona qualified in both accountancy and insolvency with a Big 4 accountancy firm. After three years of audit, she worked in a variety of insolvency assignments including the administration of Air Europe in 1991. She spent a year working in the Middle East before setting up an insolvency practice for a local accountancy firm in 2001. In 2015 she broke away to work on her own and in order to extend the services she could offer to support business owners facing difficulties she qualified as a mediator.