Conflict in the workplace is inevitable, and learning how to create productive conflict resolution is a necessity. One of the most common causes of conflict among employees is miscommunication.
The first step toward successful communication is identifying how your own behaviors affect the situation. The assertive continuum is a model of communication that outlines three different personality traits that explain how we act. These characteristics are passive-aggressive, assertive and aggressive.
Assertiveness lies in the middle of the continuum and is essential to managing workplace conflict. Here’s why: Those with passive-aggressive tendencies try to avoid conflict. They generally have low self-confidence, and their motivation stems from seeking approval, which in turn, deters them from voicing opinions and halts creativity.
Similarly, those with aggressive characteristics, surprisingly, also have low self-confidence. However, their motivation is caused by a need to control others, and they have little regard for the thoughts or feelings for their peers.
On the other hand, those with assertive qualities typically have a high level of self-confidence. They strive to connect with others rather than submit to or control them, and they recognize the needs of others over their own.
Guiding principles to assertiveness include:
- Using “I” statements instead of “you” statements
- Listening attentively
- Focusing on actual behaviors rather than interpretations of behaviors
- Maintaining eye contact
- Staying focused on the message
- Clearly explaining the changes you would like to see happen
- Being future-oriented
In summary, practicing assertive communication techniques in the work environment helps resolve conflicts in a timely manner, making your life easier and the company more productive.