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Dealing with conflict

As we mentioned last week, emotions impact performance and reduce negative conflicts, so emotional intelligence is an essential leadership skill.  So how can we develop a greater degree of emotional intelligence? 

Moods can be like colds; they are contagious.  When one person feels a strong emotion, the mood can spread to other group members, and as a leader, you want to make sure bad emotions do not contaminate your team.  

An important first step is to be aware of and to manage your own emotions.  Identify your feelings.  Are you sad, angry, fearful, or guilty?   Is the emotion intense or mild?  Is the event worthy of the emotion you are feeling?  Working toward mindfulness, regulate how your emotions are communicated.  Rather than expressing unbridled emotions or bottling them up, acknowledge your feelings and talk about them in a way that does not alienate, but provides an opportunity for people to know your perspective.  This opens the door for constructive dialogue.   

Secondly, you often deal with anxiety-ridden staff members, and if you understand their emotions you can help them cope, without becoming upset in the process. If possible, anticipate how the person may be feeling and plan your approach.  Additionally, tone of voice and body language are clues to emotions.  

Every conflict has an emotion attached to it.  Leaders who identify and address their own emotions and the emotions of others experience a sense of accomplishment that is generated by managing conflicts effectively.