• An employee challenges the safety rules?

  • A supervisor strongly disagrees with implementing safety procedures that allegedly slow down production?

  • A Manager cuts your safety budget because it is considered overhead?

  • Negotiating new job or salary increases?

As safety professionals, conflict is inevitable because employees, supervisors, managers and executive management all have differences in their goals, opinions and values. Throughout the course of the day many disagreements come up in the work environment simply out of common seemingly benign scenarios. As such, safety professionals need to fine-tune their negotiation and conflict resolution skills in order to meet the day-to-day challenges that arise in the normal parameters of our jobs with the best approach possible to become more effective and content in our careers. Effective negotiation refers to the ability to resolve disputes and conflicts and a desire to interact with others to come up with solutions that are acceptable to all those involved.

Your past personal experiences and relationships have shaped over the years how you approach conflict situations. Every employee in the work place shows up with a minimum of 18 years of life experience that will shape how they deal with situations confronted in the work environment. If conflict is managed effectively, relationships are preserved and often improved. When conflict is handled poorly, relationships are strained and weakened, and long-term grudges may develop which often lead to more intense discord and stress in the future. The old saying, "I may forgive but I will never forget" comes into play.

The following scenarios show some typical ineffective conflict situations that will no doubt sound very familiar to the safety professional. After a review of how to foster and improve your negotiation skills, this article provides suggestions and insights into how to improve the outcome of each of these examples.

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