Being locked in a conflict can be stressful and emotionally draining. Sadly, it’s part of everyday life whether it’s at work or at home.
Sources of conflict can come about through:
- Personality clashes
- Poor communication
- Minor disagreements
The list is endless.
Conflicts can become destructive; harming the relationships of all involved and creating a negative atmosphere.
Often we try to avoid our conflicts in the vain hope that it will simply go away. But like a deep cut that is left untreated; if you do not treat it properly then it will fester and become a lot more difficult to treat.
But it’s possible to turn your conflict into something positive.
Conflicts can be a great opportunity to strengthen relationships and integrity. If successful, you can resolve your conflict by turning it into something creative.
Does that sound good to you?
If the answer is yes, read on below.
10 Tips to Resolve Conflicts Positively
1. Agree on a mutually acceptable time and place to discuss the conflict.
Trying to resolve a conflict when it is convenient for you is not a great starting point.
Everyone involved should agree on a place that is neutral and at a time where all parties can meet up to talk. I recommend this to be a place where everyone can comfortably speak their mind openly and honestly.
2. State the problem as you see it and list your concerns.
Whatever is causing the conflict, try to stick to the facts. When talking about your concerns, be courteous and try to make “I” statements rather than “You” statements.
Don’t throw judgements, accusations and absolute statements (“always” or “never”) into the discussion. This will be interpreted as a personal attack.
3. Let the other person have his/her say.
Try not to interrupt or contradict when someone is trying to explain their point of view. This will only make things worse.
Remember, they listened to your concerns first and now it is your turn to do the same.
You may hear things your might not like at this point, making you become defensive. But you need to fight this instinct.
Do not allow name-calling, put-downs, threats, obscenities, yelling, or intimidating behaviour.
4. Listen and ask questions.
Be sure to:
- Ask fact-based questions (who? what? where? when? how?) to make sure you understand the situation.
- Ask exploratory questions (what if? what are you saying? is this the only solution to our problem? what if we did such and such? are there other alternatives to this situation?).
- Avoid accusatory “why” questions (why are you like that?).
- Use your own words to restate what you think the other person means and wants.
- Acknowledge the person’s feelings and perceptions.
5. Stick to one conflict at a time — to the issue at hand.
Often we can entangle many tiny conflicts into a massive one. Try to go through each conflict one at a time.
Do not change the subject or allow it to be changed if it’s still unresolved. If you feel that the subject has gone off piste, you can say something like:
“I understand your concern, but I’d like to finish what we’re talking about before we discuss it.”
6. Seek common ground.
Finding the common ground in items that you agree on is an important step. You might find that all parties have shared concerns.
If you can start from common ground, its a strong foundation to seeking the right resolution to your conflict(s).
7. Brainstorm solutions to the conflict that allow everyone to win.
When looking for solutions, be prepared for compromise and ensure everyone wins.
Such as life, we cannot always have everything our way. But that doesn’t mean there is no hope for a resolution. As the saying goes; there is always more than one way to skin a cat.
8. Request behaviour changes only.
You cannot demand people to change who they are or how they feel. Equally you cannot ask others to:
- Change their attitudes.
- To “be” different.
If you want them to “stop doing” something, suggest an alternative action. But be reasonable and not unrealistic. People can change their behaviour, but this can also take time depending on the request.
9. Agree to the best way to resolve the conflict and to a timetable for implementing it.
Be sure that all parties agree to an action plan, and set realistic timescales for implementation.
Ensure your plan includes:
- Who will do what?
- When will these be completed?
10. If the discussion breaks down, reschedule another time to meet. Consider bringing in a third party.
This can happen in exceptional circumstances. Usually when a conflict has gone on for some time or has been badly managed.
The important thing here is to not give up. Go back round the cycle of these tips and try to get to a resolution again.
If you need a third party, make sure that the person you bring in to help isn’t a close friend or relative. And most importantly, pick someone all parties are happy to work with.
Do you have any tips or tricks you want to share?
Please let me know in the comments.