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Why and when soft skills matter in leadership: Conflict resolution

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It doesn’t matter what line of work you’re in, people need soft skills to be successful on the job and for your organisation to build longevity. Once technical skills are mastered, soft skills make the most difference both with internal stakeholders and external customers or clients. Three essential soft skills include communication, the ability to build trust and dealing with issues effectively when they arise. Why do they matter and what do they look like?  

Conflict Resolution 

Disagreements are an inevitable part of working with other people, so learning how to effectively manage them is a skill that will carry you through your career, regardless of what industry you’re in. It also helps to paint the picture of you as a strong leader that can navigate through tricky situations tactfully. Here are a few ways you can deal with conflict effectively:  

  • Practice patience. The way you act has an impact on others. Make a conscious effort to put your own opinions and needs on pause to focus on what the other person is saying. By being patient and hearing someone out, you allow them to feel heard and take the heat out of arguments by remaining objective and calm. In addition, when acting as a mediator by hearing out both sides, you can often identify an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.   
  • Use statements focused on yourself (not the other person). This will allow you to express your issues without stirring up defensiveness or resentment in others. To do this, explain your own feelings about a situation without laying blame. For example, “I’ve noticed there seems to be a bit of conflict in the team lately and it’s affecting morale, can you give me a bit of insight into what’s going on” rather than, “Why have you’ve been fighting with Jim?” or “I’m afraid I wasn’t invited to the meeting with the client, which is going to make quoting difficult” rather than “Why didn’t you invite me to the meeting, how do you expect me to do my job?” By using this approach, you take the sting out of a conversation, show yourself to be reasonable and highlight the impact of a person’s behaviour.   
  • Be willing to compromise. There are arguments worth dying in a ditch over and there those that aren’t worth the hassle. It pays sometimes to concede, or meet in the middle, so that everyone can move on with their work. This helps to ensure that you’re seen as a leader who is objective and reasonable, and when you need to hold your ground, people will take you more seriously.  

As the way people work continues to change at an accelerated page, developing soft skills are more critical than ever before. Organisations who provide soft skills training report seeing a positive impact – both in peoples’ wellbeing and in organisations’ bottom line – that contributes to business longevity.    

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