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Resolving Conflicts

For editors, relationships are important and conflict resolution is critical. Through the entire review process, editors have to carefully and tactfully deal with not only language and style issues, but also issues of egos and emotions.

This article sums up perspectives provided by Mary R. Van Brink on conflict resolution in her presentation "Dilbert vs. Godzilla: How to Prepare Yourself to Deal with Monsters in the Workplace." (The presentation is attached along with this article.)

As editors, it is good to remember the following points, which Mary states in her presentation, to discern and work through conflict situations.

Learn to…

  • Recognize the warning signs of a conflict. For example, a threatening posture, lowered voice, red face, clenched teeth, condescending tone, balled fists. In the case of virtual relationships, the anger or other associated emotions of a conflict can take the form of a rude tone in a mail, strong disagreeable comments in a mail or a call, unresponsiveness to discussions or meetings, and the like.
  • Identify the underlying causes of a conflict. For example, embarrassment, hurt, shame, fear, frustration. If we do not get to the root cause, we will not be able to resolve the conflict in an effective manner.
  • Examine the fears that make us avoid resolving a conflict. For example, harm; rejection; loss of relationship; anger; failing; being seen as selfish; saying the wrong thing; hurting someone else; getting what you want: success; intimacy. Often this honest look at ourselves can set us on the journey to self-discovery and slowly help us to engage and deal with conflict in our teams in a mature and rational manner.
  • Consider the different ways we might tend to deal with conflict. For example, avoidance, bullying, giving in, compromising, problem-solving. We need to constantly work towards problem-solving so that we can effectively partner with our writers.

Focus on…

  • How to cope with conflict: Face the conflict; think that other’s perceptions are more important than our reality; think through doing and not doing something; circumnavigate facing the conflict directly. Always build on small successes and be courageous and tenacious in dealing with conflict.
  • How to resolve a conflict: Listen first; provide an organized and timed forum for discussion; present possible options for resolution; project confidence to reach a resolution; promise and deliver a resolution. You can also help in resolving a conflict by playing a referee, but ask permission before getting involved or you may become the focus of the anger. Remain neutral and focus on issues, not just the signs. Don’t assume you know the answer, but try and formulate an action plan

If you have created a conflict, consider this approach: acknowledge your part in the conflict, avoid excuses, take responsibility, seek help, forgive yourself for being human, and change your behavior.

If someone else has created a conflict, consider this approach: report all threats, continue normal work patterns, allow discussion, look and listen for escalations, maintain confidence and assertiveness.

Page last modified on Tuesday, May 03, 2011 08:01:34am EDT
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Category: Skills

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