The Challenge of Behavior-Based Interview: Conflict Management

In the frank expression of conflicting opinions lies the promise of wisdom. – Louis D. Brandeis

Conflict management is one of the most common topics that come up during a behavior-based interview. Which is why when I attended a presentation on conflict management last week, it made me think of past conflict situations that I have dealt with and the way I resolved them.  Questions that may come up in the interview can be framed in a number of ways.

  • How did you handle an organizational change that you did not agree with?
  • How did you approach a colleague to let him know about a mistake he made?
  • How do you handle people who are notoriously difficult to deal with?

First of all, a roadmap for the presentation was created.  It also served as the table of contents.

Road Map

One of the most important things I learned is that conflict is not only unavoidable, but also can be beneficial.  By allowing us to see different points of view and working on determining the best solution, conflict fosters innovation.

The most common cause of conflict is, of course, our personality differences.  There are many different personality types that are identified depending on how people tend to manage conflict.

Personality Types

Obviously, the Listener is the most successful in dealing with conflict.

Another point that the speaker touched on is that different personalities have different management styles and, thus, ways of resolving conflict. There is no one best way to deal with conflict, just as there are several conflict management techniques that you can use.  However, the key is to actually deal with it and the best way to deal with it is by working towards a win-win resolution.

Win Win Strategy

Source: Conflict Management Skills for Women – Skillpath Seminars

This strategy focuses your attention on the essentials.  It helps you consciously guide your actions and gives you a direction to take the situation to.

A word of caution: conflict inevitably involves emotions.  Thus, it is important to pay attention to emotions – your own as well as the emotions of others.  Sometimes it may be necessary to take the time to reflect on the situation. Honestly, dealing with emotions in a workplace is a whole other topic.

Personally, I rarely perceive things – people or situations – as “conflict”.  I focus on building positive relationships at all times.  So when I am faced with a challenge that involves diverse personalities, opposing opinions, or differences in the methodology, it is much  easier to deal with when you have good rapport with the individual. Networking definitely has more benefits than one.

Do you have any tips for dealing with conflict?

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