4 ways to enhance the human approach in conflict management

Everyone has their own way of dealing with conflict. Let's look at how to take a humane approach and how to make it work.

Team Building

Félix-Antoine Desruisseaux

Assessment Consultant

Tuesday, January 10, 2023


This article aims to present some tips that you can use to facilitate conflict management in your organization. This question will be answered:

How can we ensure a culture of openness, and healthy communication, and prevent negative issues in the work climate?

1. Understand people behind the conflict

It is important to remember that there are complex human relationships behind every conflict. 

Different personality styles suggest that some people will not get along, or that interventions will not always be equally effective for each person.

Each person has their way of dealing with conflict and each person has their personality. It is therefore important to deal with the situation in a way that considers each person's uniqueness and the way they function. 

It is therefore important to know the personality styles of your team members. This way, you can align your intervention strategies with those that seem more relevant to your employees.

Your levers as a manager:

  • Take the time to meet with your employees to listen to them to better understand the context in which they find themselves.
  • Survey both parties involved in the conflict separately.
  • Have one-on-one meetings with your more difficult employees when you want to raise problematic behaviours.
  • Adopt a problem-solving approach to find a win-win solution for your employee and your organization.
  • Accompany your employees, and offer coaching to support their development.

2. "Walk the talk"

Sometimes your employees may not even be aware of what they are doing which can be counterproductive. That's why addressing these behaviours and the facts associated with them is critical.

The better people's approach to conflict is one that clearly stands against inappropriate behaviours and does not let them slide.

On the contrary, you must listen to your employees and communicate with them the standards and operating practices expected in your organization. 

It is important not to overlook the importance of acting on these principles to ensure the smooth functioning of your teams. 

3. Look for ways to create positive effects from conflict

Often, we tend to think of conflict as a block in our work, yet certain types of conflict can help us move forward. 

For example, task-related conflict can be a driver of innovation and creativity in team projects. Through conflict and disagreement, teams can grow and become more mature in their functioning.

On the other hand, relationship or personality conflicts must be managed to respect your organization's policies to maintain a good team climate and ensure fairness. 

What are the indicators to detect whether a conflict could have a positive impact on your team?

  • It is a conflict associated with the tasks and performance of a team.
  • Conflicts are not based on personality or value issues.
  • Your employees are looking for ways to compromise.
  • The level of trust and psychological safety is present in your team climate.

4. Do not forget yourself in the conflict management process.

Conflict management is a very energy-consuming activity for managers.

It is not always pleasant to deal with employees who have exhibited problematic behaviours or are in a conflict situation. 

Some strategies you can use:

  • Find a strategy to externalize what these interventions are doing to you.
  • Take time to relax before and after these difficult encounters.
  • Prepare yourself to feel confident in your meeting (e.g. list the facts, point out broken policies, or prepare a meeting outline to refer to).

What you need to remember

You need to remember that the human approach to conflict management aims to put the individual at the heart of conflict management. You must therefore consider:

  • The employees involved in the conflict;
  • The individual who is managing the conflict (this could be you);
  • Seek to achieve positive effects at the end of the conflict, such as: 

Emphasize employee development;

Ensure fair treatment according to policies;

Emphasize the positive impact on the team, if any.

If you want to learn more about conflict management, we invite you to listen to our new podcast (French only).


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