In any workplace, conflicts will arise. However, in a workplace where you are one of 4 female developers on a team of 20, there will be lots of opportunities to say something about not okay situations, and the key is to not have it turn into a conflict. Which, turns out, is really frickin hard.

A few weeks ago, myself and the a few other female devs watched a webinar on resolving workplace conflict put on by Tech Ladies. It was short and sweet but there were a few key takeaways that stayed with me.

Positions Vs Interests

Positions are someone’s solution to an issue. Interests are someone’s concerns they want to resolve. The key is to move everyone from positions to understanding all interests. Its easier to find a good solution when you understand people’s objectives.

“I"-statements are also positions, eg: “When you offer everyone except me a donut, I feel left out". (I found this interesting to learn because you hear so much about using them to not lay blame on others but its not an effective way of communicating during conflict).

Relationship Building

Often, its not about the solution, its about building relationships and getting on better terms.

There are 3 types of mediation (two of which value relationships):
1. Evaluative: has a fast timeline and requires quick action. Success criteria is the settlement itself.
2. Facilitative: opportunity to develop skills and resolve future conflict. Success criteria is the settlement and relationship building.
3. Transformative: the outcome is minor and the relationships are critical. Success criteria is prevention and self management.

Separate People from the Problem

Dealing with problems is often aggravated by people misunderstanding each other or taking things personally. Work on leaving negative emotions out by using clear communication, taking breaks to let people cool down, and discussing each others perceptions.