4 Workplace Conflict Resolution Tips for Multi-Cultural Teams

Managers spend every day in workplace conflict resolution, especially for teams with high diversity. Workplace conflict is considered as a part of life for the U.S., Australia, the Netherlands, the UK, Germany, and Scandinavia. Meanwhile, in China, Japan, Arab nations, Greece, Latin America, and India, conflicts can make or break your reputation. In this article at Country Navigator, Sue Bryant discusses 4 workplace conflict resolution tips for multi-cultural teams.

Tips for Workplace Conflict Resolution

For ‘individualists and low-context communicators’ like the U.S., workplace conflict resolution is an expected scenario. Though not a desired one, it can be contained amicably. Whereas, for ‘high-context, collectivist’ nations like India, you must get along with all types of people. If you fail in keeping peace with everyone, you are a ‘social failure’, so people try to avoid conflicts altogether. This results in suppressed rage or awkward behavior. Following are the 4 workplace conflict resolution tips for multi-cultural teams:

Look for the Signs: The best way for workplace conflict resolution is looking out for signs. Not everyone can talk about their issues upfront. When teammates are talking among themselves in their own language or becoming silent around you, address them immediately.

Listen and Observe: Some cultures like China or Japan do not prefer sharing personal opinions publicly. Observe their body language. If they are restless, cross their arms while conversing, and do not want to look in the eyes, there is something wrong.

Be Open-Minded: You can perform workplace conflict resolution if you look beyond your culture and from the perspective of corporate culture. Looking from a personal point of view, can make you look at other cultures as too oppressive or slack.

Do Not Presuppose: Some conflicts stem from social differences like gender, generation, etc. It is hard for male teammates to accept a woman leader in Muslim-dominated countries. In Asian nations, seniority takes precedence, so experienced teammates may not look up to the vibrant younger manager.

Empathy Is the Key: Treat the reason behind a workplace conflict like the tip of an iceberg. Major reasons are hidden deep within people’s upbringing, experience, and environment. Find out if the missed deadline is because of undeniable personal factors. If someone takes the failure personally, understand how the failure affects their workload.

Know Your Limits: Some cultures like the U.S., Germany, etc. encourage people to speak up while some do not. In South Korea, workplace conflict resolution is exclusively for senior leadership. So, leverage your understanding of the culture before stepping in between.

Intervening as per Culture: If things are getting out of control, you can ask a third party to judge the scenario. For low-context countries like the U.S., people would prefer an objective mediator like an HR. For a collective culture like Greece, call upon a respected senior that both conflicting parties know and respect.

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