How do you deal with conflict? – Redux

by | 30th Aug 2018 | All Blogs, Behavioural Science Stuff

We have all been in conflicts. But it’s important to regain perspective and control.

Earlier in the month I wrote a post about how to handle conflict. But it was somewhat wordy and technical, so I decided to give this a redo (or as the kids say “redux”). If you would like to see a more technical view of what I am talking about in resolving conflicts, there are many articles on google that explain this in great detail. 

*Takes a breath* – Here we go:

Conflict’s are part of everyday life.

Sort of an obvious statement here. We all come across conflicts with others, albeit personal or at work. Conflicts can be quite emotional and make us take decisions we wouldn’t normally consider when we are calm and rational. I am happy to admit there have been times where I wished I didn’t take action when something has made me angry or frustrated, and subsequently turned what was a trivial problem into a storm in a tea cup.

Our emotional state when we are in conflict can be our own worst enemy, if we do not acknowledge how we might be feeling.

So my first tip is:


Top Tip #1 – Calm down and bring back your voice of reason.

Sounds like a pretty obvious step to take, but I can assure you that we don’t do this enough. It is important to accept how you might be feeling and to be aware of it. By simply being aware, and recognising your emotions are somewhat outta whack from the status quo, you can begin to regain control of yourself and approach your conflict with perspective.

We have this uncanny instinct to smite thee down first and ask questions later. I don’t care if your the most calming human on this earth, the primal instinct within our genetics teaches us to take action when something is happening that we do not like. This is more commonly known as the flight or fight response

Get your feelings in check and then you will be able to…


Top Tip #2 – Search within yourself and understand what makes you feel conflicted.

I know – this sounds pretty zen and very “lets go hug a tree” sort of advice. But it works.

We all get offended by different things. For example, I do not like drivers who fail to use their indicators, especially BMW drivers. Why BMW drivers? In my world, it tends to be them. This is my emotions talking rather than the reason behind it.

When you strip the emotions back – I simply don’t like drivers who do not indicate. This is what has made me take offence. 

Hopefully you will see the point I am making here. We often take offence or don’t like something based on our moral compass, or maybe a long held principle we live by that makes us feel like a “good human”. 

Strip back those emotions, and you will understand the rational reasons behind how you feel about whatever has put you in the conflict to begin with.


Top Tip #3 – Open discussions with honesty and integrity.

In a conflict, nothing gets resolved if you are not willing to open discussions with honesty and integrity.

This can be often quite a hard thing to do. But it shows maturity and a willingness to listen with a view to figuring out how to resolve the conflict constructively. Try to avoid getting drawn into pointless skirmishes. Point scoring and throwing wild accusations to do damage to others is not the goal here. Leave that in the school playground.

Ensure you set out clearly your intentions and try to keep things as positive as possible. I am not saying don’t express your feelings, but don’t go on the offensive when other parties are telling you what has riled them up. 

If you’re not sure how to open these discussions, ask open questions. For example: Why are you offended? Tell me whats on your mind? Something that will allow the other party to open up on how they feel without thinking you are ready to go on the offensive.

Creating this atmosphere where you can tell each other how you truly feel is a really big step. And if you initiate this, kudos to you – it will show that you do care about resolving the problem and you’ve shown integrity. However, all this is for nothing if you don’t…


Top Tip #4 – Actively listen to the points being made – even if you do not agree.

Be sure to allow others to speak their mind. This is harder than it sounds because this may contain painful points of discussion that you may agree or disagree with, or even find too hard to hear. Go back to Top Tip 2 – try to peel back the emotion and you will understand the real cause why someone is conflicted. 

The power technique here – listen actively and allow the other party to talk freely. This means do not interject or stopping someone from talking openly if they are saying something you do not like. You will get the chance to answer these objections when it is your turn.

By following this simple technique, you will have gained respect and rapport of those you’re in conflict with and they will be more receptive to you. If you can do this successfully, you will then be able to…


Top Tip #5 – Agree a compromise and the best way to resolve the conflict.

Here’s the part where you will be able to formally close your conflict. Now that you understand each others issues and it’s in the open, it’s time to work out how you will move forward and bury the hatchet. 

Do not demand or expect that others must see your view, and agree with you on everything. This is a backwards step and you must be prepared to compromise equally. It is OK to still have a difference of opinion, but only if you can both see that the way forward is the greater good for all involved.

Take my example earlier about drivers not using indicators, particularly BMW drivers. I am not going to get anywhere if said BMW driver is being told ‘you’re wrong because you drive a BMW’. Whilst I might not be a big fan of BMW drivers – we could agree that not using indicators when turning into junctions is a pretty silly thing to do. In return, I might be asked to stop taking my frustration out on defenceless BMW drivers.

This is a compromise and if I agree to it – a way forward out of the conflict. And therefore I can go about my business as usual.


I hope this post is helpful to you and gives you some food for thought on how you might resolve conflicts in the future. If you have any other tips or techniques, be sure to post a comment below.



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