Conflict is normal, unavoidable, even healthy. When colleagues collaborate, they’ll disagree. Key is resolving disagreements. Ok, how do the Germans deal with conflict?
Germans view conflicts as fundamentally negative and discomforting. Escalating conflict should only be an option of last resort. And since effective leadership is expected to anticipate and prevent conflicts within their organization, those conflicts which have become known are a sign of leadership failure.
Germans will avoid an open hearing at almost all costs. The airing of grievances ﹣ argument vs. counter-argument in front of the next level of management﹣only increases tension, making resolution more difficult. Instead, the conflict resolver interviews each party separately and on a one-on-one basis.
A German manager who has been asked to resolve a conflict is more mediator than judge. And mediation in Germany means gathering and analyzing the facts only. Subjective input provided by others affected by the dispute, carry far less weight.
Germans avoid making hasty decisions at all costs. A German manager is expected to work through the mediation process carefully. An optimal resolution which demands time, is better than a suboptimal resolution arrived at quickly.
Germans feel uncomfortable not only with resolutions dictated from above, but also with those which result in a clear winner and loser. Germans believe that a resolution is effective and durable only if the parties involved freely accept it. Losers seldom freely accept the outcome.