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Friday, July 31, 2009

Resolving Conflicts

As a BA you are constantly in a position where there are conflict whether the conflict is in requirement, conflict in design, conflict in implementation or just conflict in management, they are just everywhere, to be a successful BA, you will have to master the art of resolving conflict.
Conflict resolution can sometime take up 10-15% of my BA time but I find it very challenging and most of the time I am happy with the results after the conflict is resolved. Most of people think conflict is bad, unproductive and unhealthy in an organization, I would like to take a different approach, I believe conflict is natural and healthy it means people are thinking, as long as conflict are resolved on time, it can help make changes for good.
Everyone has to deal with difficult people from time to time, they want to be heard, and with the right strategy it is possible to reach an agreement with them. I will go through some of the strategies which I have used in past whenever I am in a conflict situation.
Stay calm no matter how heated the discussion gets, how angry the person gets, you should never lose your temper, try to stay calm and collected.
Let the other person do most of the talking, sometime all they want is to speak up and get it out, do not interrupt them or try to correct them when they are talking, after they finish acknowledge that you have heard what they have to say by saying something like “I see your point, if I understand it correctly what you are asking is ...”.
In a conflict situation people tend to bring in past experience, and imaginative facts and figures, do not try to defend and correct them, just think of them as red hearing and move on. Do not be the judge or try to take side, try to look for the cause of the conflict and not the symptoms of the conflict.
Silence is a very important strategy for reacting to conflicts. Acknowledge the possibility that you could be at fault even if you don’t think you are, on the other hand if you think you are at fault try to ask yourself as to where you are at fault.
Pay extra attention on your body language, you body gives messages when you think they are wrong or you don’t like what they are saying, relax your body and face.
If for whatever reason, the argument becomes verbally abusive, just calmly terminate the discussion and let them know that they are very angry and we will have to continue this discussion later, gracefully excuse yourself from the meeting .
I always believe that every conflict I came across provided me a means to learn and has made me more mature, conflict resolution is a skill you must learn for your own good, it is very crucial to become a successful BA (and as a person). That reminds me a quote from Carl Gustav “The greatest and most important problems of life are all fundamentally insoluble. They can never be solved but only outgrown.”. So true!

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