No one likes to be in conflict with their friends, family members, or coworkers. When you’re already busy and stressed about checking off your daily to-do list, conflict only adds to the negative feelings and atmosphere you’re in and decreases your productivity.
So, what are the main steps involved in resolving a conflict? There are a lot of articles detailing conflict resolution skills, but those I found mentioned the most consistently are:
- Find a neutral space
- Actively listen and engage with them
- Clarify the source of conflict
- Be aware of body language
- Share your feelings
- Work toward a win-win solution
These are great starter points because they refer to how you choose to interact. Both parties should be somewhere they feel comfortable, safe, and understood.
There are three main methods for addressing conflicts as well. Depending on the circumstances of your conflict, one option may work better than the others for you.
Commonly, joint decisions are the best option because they usually result in the most favorable circumstances following a conflict. With joint decision-making, you and the other person work together to come up with a solution that doesn’t hurt or hinder either one of you.
Unilateral decision-making is better used when the choice isn’t important to the other parties or if it’s time-sensitive. This applies to things like making director-level decisions, meeting tight deadlines, or preventing harm due to dangerous circumstances (think of pulling someone out of the street when a fast car goes by). While concise, in a sensitive conflict this wouldn’t serve you or the other person very well in the end but instead would cause hurt feelings and resentment.
If you’re fairly certain there may be resentment and unwillingness to comply even with a joint decision, you may want to look into mediation services near me that provide third-party intervention. You can enlist a neutral person to help you both come to an agreeable solution.
Improving Your Skills
Are you ready to try resolving your conflict through a discussion? Here are some things you can practice in your everyday interactions that will prepare you to address conflicts.
Practice Empathy. As individuals, people are quick to defend themselves and stick to their own opinions or ideas. This can act as a wall between you and other people, altering your perception. If you can look at the situation from the other person’s perspective, you’ll start to recognize some of the real reasons behind the conflict and also direct the discussion toward a favorable end.
Your thoughts will manifest in your body language as well, so practice having an open and accepting appearance. You’ll find this improves your ability to actively listen and relate as well.
Practice Objectivity. In the midst of conflict, your emotions will try to get the better of you, so it’s helpful to take a step back and recognize that your emotions are affecting how you interact with others. By looking at the conflict from a neutral position yourself, you can temper your own reactions and have better luck addressing the heart of the issue.
This is an opportunity to use humor as a way to de-escalate the situation but remember that it shouldn’t be at the other person’s expense. Learn to use humor to bond positively with others.
Practice Speaking for Yourself. People tend to place blame on the shoulders of others or put words in their mouths. They may think they are getting the real problem out in the open, but it really only serves to rile up the other person. Instead, learn to communicate how you perceived a situation and how it made you feel.
Where to Learn More
We have covered a few basics here about conflict resolution, but there’s always more to learn. Courses on conflict resolution are often required for management positions but can also be found online. Because conflict resolution is an important life skill, they can also be learned through adult disability services and life coach services.