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In the workspace, whether you work at a large MNC or you work in a Startup, managing and navigating conflict comes with big consequences to you because of that emotional attachment to one’s viewpoint.
Even though the corporate world has introduced many laws to encourage women to join, there are many, many micro barriers for women to thrive and succeed in the workspace.
Even today, the need to be likeable and competent is so high, that navigating conflict in the workspace has become a niche skill set that has become a differentiating factor for women in leadership roles.
A conflict is not merely a differing point of view, a conflict almost always comes with an emotional attachment to one’s point of view.
When handled poorly, folks feel attacked, threatened, and resentful. When managed well, you are seen as a leader and an influencer.
Right now, in the corporate world, remember that the cards are still stacked against women, particularly women of colour. Even today in the hierarchy at work, we need to work harder, better, and smarter than our male or Caucasian counterparts just to be seen.
One day in the future I hope to write about simply managing conflict regardless of gender and ethnicity, but today, as you read through this article, see it from a lens of giving you the best shot at successfully navigating conflict at work.
As someone who negotiates and manages conflict daily, here are my top three tips for navigating workplace conflict as a woman and woman of colour.
I cannot stress this enough. There will be a LOT of workspace conflicts – one of the biggest markers of leadership is picking the conflicts which matter the most to you.
These conflicts will most likely be the ones that either hurt or expedite your career. Pick the ones that matter. It is very easy for BIPOC folks to get labelled.
And these labels — stick. I understand the world is evolving, but societies evolve slowly. So even today it’s easy for us, women, to get labelled in a way that hurts our professional careers.
A conflict, as I said before, almost always has an emotional attachment to it. We feel we are right, or we feel we have been wronged and either way, we will feel the need to have the conflict resolved and our emotions validated.
In a workspace, it is most likely that you will only be able to achieve one outcome — either the conflict will be resolved or your emotions will be validated.
Sometimes, when the conflict is resolved you may feel validated, but humans are complex so that situation may not always work out so well.
Going into a conflict, understand which outcome you want to achieve — do you want the person or people in front to admit your emotions are valid, or do you want them to do what you want?
Be firm about your intention and desired outcome.
Many times, folks who have traditionally held lesser power in society tend to fold, bow, shift in their seats or make themselves smaller when they are in a conflict. Sometimes they look away from those in power as they assert their point of view.
Resist the urge to do any of this. Practice in a mirror. Practice with a loved one. Sit tall, keep your gaze gently focused, and know in your mind why you have taken on this conflict.
Keep your head high because you know you are doing what is right for you.
A conflict is just another conversation you need to have. It’s not right or wrong — it just is.
Image Source: FatCamera via Getty Images, free on CanvaPro
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