There are difficult people in every industry, including construction. You may encounter tough clients that have unrealistically high expectations, and you will find team members who butt heads on the jobsite. You will discover that everyone has their own style of communication, interests, and project goals in mind. Learning how to work effectively with different individuals can not only help you mitigate conflict, but can also strengthen your team and overall work product.

When a group of different people get together in a high-stress, fast-paced environment, there is bound to be some friction. A significant portion of a manager’s day is spent dealing with conflicts that arise within their team. These conflicts can range from simple misunderstandings to issues of higher levels. Regardless, not attending to these conflicts efficiently and effectively can have serious consequences. Difficult behavior can result in a decrease in productivity, revenue, and talent retention.

Most conflict in any environment—professional or personal—occurs as a result of unfulfilled needs. This is often exacerbated by communication issues, which is not the true problem, but a representation of each person’s needs, desires, and fears. In the workplace this could show up as a conflict within a team when one or more employees feel that their coworkers are not pulling their weight on a project.

When dealing with conflict, it is important to listen to each side openly and unconditionally. Use restatement of comment strategy to create an active listening environment. When you initially listen more than speak, you are usually able to uncover the real reason for the conflict. Many times, you will discover that it is not a professional matter but rather the real conflict may stem from something happening outside of work, or something could have triggered a past experience that did not result in a favorable outcome.

When you deal with the feelings on each side of the conflict versus attacking the problem head-on, you are better able to help those involved resolve the conflict themselves. This puts you in the position of a mediator rather than a fixer. When conflicts are resolved through mediation, all parties feel heard and walk away with a more positive response to the encounter.

The bottom line is that we don’t have control over how others act, but we do have control over how we react. By establishing an open line of communication early on, your team knows that they have the ability to bring problems or concerns to your attention. It is important that you show as opposed to just tell. People unknowingly mirror others’ behavior, therefore if you continually act professionally and with respect, others are likely to respond in kind.


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