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Whether you are a team leader or partners with someone, handling conflict in a timely and effective manner is one of the most important areas of running your business. It can make or break relationships on your team or with your business partner, which can cost you time and money, as well as lost opportunities. Know how and when to handle the not-so-fun parts of the relationship when disagreements occur, or when areas that weren’t clearly spelled out become contentious.

Communication is at the heart of all relationships, personal and business. Follow these effective strategies for addressing conflict on your team to help resolve issues quickly and keep your team productive and successful:

1. Address things quickly.
When people aren’t heard and an issue is left unaddressed, it actually makes them feel worse. Pretending it didn’t happen, or that it will somehow magically go away, is not healthy; it is wishful thinking. As the leader of the team or partner, you need to address things even when you don’t want to, or it is uncomfortable. Make sure you are empathetic—hear their side of the story and allow people to express their concerns first without having to be right. The idea is resolution, which means resolve—and a positive one, at that.

2. Don’t assume anything.
Even if you think you know what is going on, don’t assume anything. It is important to ask questions to find out what is really going on with the other person. Let them vent and hear them out. Listen without intending to speak, and show care and empathy about the situation. This may require you to put your feelings aside for the moment to hear theirs first. You cannot assume you know what is really going on. Asking the other person also shows that you care about them and want to know their feelings, as well.

3. Don’t take it personally and stay calm.
When being proactive about resolving conflict on your team, whether it involves you or may involve members of your team you lead, it is important to not take anything personally. It is not about you (even if it is); remember, it is the other person’s point of view. Feelings are not facts—people need to be heard and understood. Being calm and neutral will help you facilitate reconciliation.

4. People want to be appreciated and loved.
When conflicts arise, people are usually fearful or resentful about some situation that is going on. Help them by letting them know you understand how they feel. The two most underutilized words in today’s society are “I understand.” It is so easy to show empathy and emotional intelligence, rather than logical thought processes. Usually it’s the personal and emotional part that affects people during conflicts, not the logical.

5. Avoid text and email during conflict.
It surprises me every day how many heated conversations are being communicated between people through text and email. It is virtually impossible to know someone’s feelings when communicating through text or email. When something is emotionally-driven, it has to be handled in person, live—on the phone or physically in-person—to be the most effective. You can read body language, hear the tone of voice and be able to pivot and change based on what the other person is saying, both with their body language and words. Make it a face-to-face, or at the very least a phone conversation, to be most effective and have better conversations that end more positively.

Helping the people you work with or lead will help them be more productive and increase morale in your team or partnership. Sometimes, allowing a cooldown period can help, but remember, you have to address it and not let too much time pass—letting time pass only makes the situation worse.  Production does follow morale, and morale is so vitally important to the culture of your team. Personal relationships are the heart of our business, and making your relationships a priority will make all the difference in the world.

Remember, the high road has a better view.

For a free copy of my exclusive “Culture Assessment Worksheet for Successful Teams,” click here.

Sherri Johnson is CEO and founder of Sherri Johnson Coaching & Consulting. With 20 years of experience in real estate, Johnson offers coaching, consulting and keynotes, and is a national speaker for the Homes.com Secrets of Top Selling Agents tour and the Official Real Estate Coach for McKissock Learning and Real Estate Express. Sign up for a free 30-minute coaching strategy session or visit www.sherrijohnson.com for more information.

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