We have previously discussed the difficulty of negotiating with colleagues and those you have a personal relationship with. Typically, we are told to only focus on the task at hand and keep all relationship issues aside. However, this may not apply to all situations. Avoiding the tension and focusing only on the issue works with “cool” issues, or issues that do not cause too much tension in the first place. “Hot conflicts” are those that cannot be put aside. In fact, it may become very difficult to work with someone if you are engaged in a hot conflict with them.
What is a “Hot Conflict?”
Now, you may be wondering what falls into the category of a hot conflict. Researches Amy Edmondson and Diana Smith from Harvard Business School has found that hot conflicts are usually prompted by differences in beliefs, interests, and values. Some of the the characteristics of a hot conflict are team members arguing about the same points over and over again. Another characteristic is team members making personal attacks on one another when they cannot come up with a solution for the task at hand. Once negative attributions take hold, emotions usually flare and there is no more progress in regards to the task at hand.
How can you solve “Hot Conflicts?”
One of the first ways you can resolve hot conflicts is by engaging in self-management. If you are the person that finds yourself in these types of conflicts, then you must learn to examine and transform the thoughts you have during the conflict. The more you understand why you feel the way you do, the easier it will be for you to control those emotions. Emotions generally hijack our ability to think straight, so try to regulate your emotions to keep yourself away from hot conflicts. If someone in your office or around you finds themselves in hot conflict, talk to them about regulating their emotions.
Another way to solve hot conflict issues is to sit down with the other person and have a meaningful conversation. Both parties can talk about their feelings and try to understand the issues they have with each other. There should be no fear of emotional eruptions present. The conversation must be framed in a way that allows both parties to freely discuss their feelings and thoughts.
Not only can hot conflict issues negatively impact the parties involved, they can also take a toll on the office environment and other employees. Therefore, solving hot conflict issues can involve the entire team in the long term. Teams members must learn to trust one another and invest in relationships with each other. This can reduce or even prevent conflicts from occurring.
Source referenced: Harvard Law Program on Negotiation