Emotional Intelligence for Conflict Resolution: EGO vs WE GO | CoX Thoughts

Emotional Intelligence for conflict resolution ‘EGO vs WE GO’

Emotional Intelligence for conflict resolution ‘EGO vs WE GO’

Emotional Intelligence for Conflict Resolution: EGO vs WE GO | CoX Thoughts

During one of our corporate workshops, a young man asked me an interesting question – “How does Emotional Intelligence help to resolve conflict?” This question highlights a fundamental aspect of human interaction, which is the ability to manage and resolve conflicts. Conflict is inevitable in our personal and professional lives, and the way we handle it can have a significant impact on our relationships and overall well-being.

In response to the young man’s question, I asked him if he had ever tried to persuade someone to agree but failed. He reflected deeply and shared a personal experience of a minor conflict that arose between two of his team members during a meeting. He intervened, but instead of resolving the conflict, he made it worse. As a result, he was blamed by his team members. Upon introspection, he realized that he lacked the ability to persuade effectively and got too emotional, which led to the conflict escalating instead of getting resolved.

This is where Emotional Intelligence comes in. Emotional Intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. It helps us to navigate through conflicting social situations and interactions smoothly by managing our behaviour and emotions. By developing our Emotional Intelligence, we can make critical life choices and resolve conflicts more effectively.

Emotional Intelligence (E I) can help us in conflict resolution by enabling us to empathize with others, communicate effectively, and negotiate skilfully. When we understand the emotions of others, we can respond to them in a more empathetic and compassionate manner, which can lead to better communication and conflict resolution. This understanding of emotions can help us to avoid misunderstandings, which often escalate into conflicts.

A conflict is a state of disharmony between incompatible persons, ideas, or interests; a clash or opposition between characters or forces in a work.

In short, EI helps us and navigate through difficult social situations with ease. By developing Emotional Intelligence, we can make better life choices, enduring relationships and lead a more fulfilling life.

When we talk of Conflict, In the past, the prevailing perspective in the business world was that conflict was an inevitable and negative aspect of organizational life, something that should be avoided at all costs, and left to be resolved only by top management. However, this view has undergone a paradigm shift in recent times. Today, conflict is perceived as a necessary and sometimes even beneficial aspect of team dynamics. When managed properly, conflict can help foster team spirit, enhance creativity, and lead to better decision-making.

That said, conflicts can still be a source of stress and tension among team members. The responsibility of resolving conflicts often falls on the team leader, who needs to use their emotional intelligence to build consensus and focus the team on relevant issues. Unresolved conflicts can lead to a range of negative consequences, including low morale, decreased productivity, staff turnover, lack of confidence, and a toxic work environment. Hence, it is essential to manage conflicts proactively to avoid these detrimental effects.

Effective conflict resolution requires a combination of emotional intelligence, communication skills, and leadership abilities. Leaders must be able to understand the emotions of their team members, converse effectively, and provide a safe space for dialogue and negotiation. By promoting open and respectful communication, leaders can foster an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their concerns and working towards a mutually beneficial resolution.

Furthermore, conflict resolution is not just the responsibility of the team leader. Every team member has a role to play in managing conflicts. It is essential to encourage a collaborative and problem-solving mindset among team members and equip them with the necessary skills to manage conflicts constructively.

In summary, conflict is an inevitable part of team dynamics, but it does not have to be negative. When managed appropriately, conflict can be a catalyst for positive change and growth. By promoting open communication, collaboration, and problem-solving, teams can turn conflicts into opportunities for learning and improvement.

Conflict is an inevitable reality that often arises in modern workplaces. An incident that occurred in a growing IT company exemplifies this. The project manager-led 6-member team had a highly performing, enthusiastic, and energetic senior consultant who unfortunately had a dominating and aggressive personality. This behavior soon turned into dictatorship, which caused resentment among the other team members. They formed a plan to put an end to this behavior and began to unleash indirect attacks on him. However, this approach only led to a performance dip in the team, and the manager took notice.

The manager, being a taskmaster but acceptable to all, quickly identified that something was going wrong with the team. He took the first step in identifying the possible reasons that triggered the problem. However, the team members were not willing to open up, making the process challenging and daunting. The manager used his personal network and other sources to identify the root cause, which turned out to be ego among the senior and other team members.

The goal of the manager was to foster trust and ask everyone for feedback, especially the team’s silent and introverted members. The manager admitted that there was disagreement but focused on the commonalities and put all his efforts to work to build incremental agreements. Conflict resolution is often a time-consuming task, and it requires everyone to use their best communication skills to make the process easier. It’s important to note that conflict resolution is not an easy process, and it requires a significant amount of time and effort. However, it is crucial to address conflict within teams to avoid high-stress levels, low morale, low productivity and staff turnover, lack of confidence, and even a poisoned environment that can result in destructive conflict. A manager who can identify and manage conflict triggers effectively using emotional intelligence can drive teams by ensuring team spirit and a performing edge.  In this context, the manager took baby steps to build on the agreements and make it possible: –

  • He used a researcher’s mind to find out the real cause of the issue.
  • A one-to-one conversation was initiated with all team members and the manager listened empathetically to them.
  • He then convened a one-on-one meeting with the senior team member and assertively conveyed the situation with his strong remarks on creating empathy and team spirit.
  • As a next step, for a relaxed but constructive meeting, which was informal in nature, he invited all the team members.
  • The meeting was facilitated in the direction of the main points or conflict areas.
  • He created a platform for everyone to have an opinion and ensured that everyone was allowed to express their views which was diplomatically mediated by the manager.
  • The team members were given space to vent their feelings.
  • Any judgment was avoided throughout the entire meeting.
  • By acting as a facilitator, he brought his other team members to a consensus with the senior member and made each member respect each other’s view.
  • He made the team come to an agreement without being forced buy in.
  • The agreement was monitored and secured, and some pep talks were followed up to promote relationship management.

The manager’s approach to conflict resolution here successfully reduced the degree of conflict within the team and improved their performance. However, every situation is unique and requires its own approach, which should focus on a long-term solution rather than a temporary fix.

The manager applied the principles of emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, empathy, understanding, and relationship management, to create a “win-win” framework and promote growth. Forward-thinking organizations foster a culture of “Less Ego & More We Go” to turn conflicts into constructive opportunities.

In conclusion, Emotional intelligence is essential for understanding and managing our emotions and connecting with others. It can improve our communication skills, boost our work performance, reduce conflicts and help us assess people and situations better. A high level of emotional intelligence can also help us manage our ego and achieve success in all areas of life.

(This blog post is an extract from “CoX Thoughts” written by Dr. Ajith Sankar, a career mentor and educationist, and his colleague, Mr. Praveen Kumar)

Dr. Ajith Sankar is the director of CoX Academy & Research Centre in Trivandrum, and he is an educationist, corporate mentor, and writer for Career Guru Malayala Manorama & Thozhil Deshabhimani, leading new dailies in the state of Kerala, India.

Shopping cart


No products in the cart.

Hit Enter to search or Esc key to close