Conflict: it’s a normal situation that is bound to happen in almost any relationship, be it family, friendships, partnerships or even work relationships. Conflict is something you may actively try to avoid or perhaps you find yourself knee deep in it often and you don’t know how to navigate.
Conflict manifests from many things but often it is focused on a disagreement. Do we need to avoid having disagreements to shy away and actively avoid conflict? No because it’s never a good thing to avoid an uncomfortable topic just because you are afraid of the outcome. Instead, it’s time to learn how to navigate and resolve conflict in a healthy and productive manner.
First, let’s discuss some of the conflict resolution styles there are:
1. Denial or avoidance of the conflict. We think it will go away by avoiding the conflict all together. Hint: It will NOT go away.
2. Giving in rather than confronting the conflict. This is unfair to all parties involved because there is no true resolution and it leads to resentment, which further causes more problems.
3. One person gets angry and blames the other person. “I’m going to punish you because you hurt me first!” This just creates a cycle of needing to win no matter the costs. Being that it is hostile and unfair, it will often lead to lasting damage in the relationship.
4. Seeking a solution that is fair and takes into consideration all parties involved. This is the healthiest approach to conflict resolution.
If we pick any resolution style besides number 4, we are most definitely not going to make real progress on creating lasting solutions to our problems. However, when we come together, we can make mutually acceptable solutions where everyone wins.
But how do we achieve this type of resolution? Simple! We’re going to follow the basic ten steps to conflict resolution:
1. Bring yourself to a sense of calmness. Take a few deep breaths, leave the situation and work towards clearing your mind. Remember, the goal is to resolve the problem and we cannot do that when experiencing high emotions!
2. Bring your awareness to the conflict at hand. What are the conflict issues? What is your contribution to the conflict?
3. Discuss a time and place for you and the other person involved to discuss the conflict. Do not attempt to solve the conflict right then and there when you’re experiencing higher emotions! Also, do not leave the situation and expect not to return. The idea is to come back to it when you’re both in a state of mind that is going to allow for productivity. Pick and time and place for later that day to discuss.
4. Remain respectful and thoughtful during the resolution. Remember to treat someone else how you would want to be treated.
5. Do not interrupt and remain actively listening to the other person. When conflict arises, communication can be difficult because of the emotions attached. To maintain respect while ensure the conflict is resolved, listen completely without interrupting and think carefully before responding. No interruptions between all parties involved.
6. Focus on the emotions involved in the conflict – Hurt/pain, etc. The key to conflict resolution is to attend to the emotions first. Listen until you experience the other side. You need to understand and accept what the other is feeling. Do not invalidate!
7. Put the conflict issues into words that are truthful. If you’re angry, say that but remember to be respectful as you do. It’s perfectly acceptable to communicate your truth.
8. Identify and express how you have contributed to the conflict. Remember earlier we said to identify how you contributed to the problem? Now it’s time to acknowledge it with your partner and accept responsibility.
9. Recognize and identify the most appropriate solutions that will benefit both of you. Work together and brainstorm as many solutions as possible. Both of you should have to adjust
10. Choose a mutually acceptable solution that benefits everyone involved. What will be required for each person to effect a change by implementing a given alternative? How will the change affect the behavior of both people and the relationship as a whole?
Now that you know how to engage in conflict resolution, ensure you have ground rules set.
Ground Rules for Conflict Resolution:
1. Each person gets to speak without interruption while the other person listens carefully
2. Make a mutual decision to work towards understanding the other person’s perspective on the situation rather than responding out of reaction.
3. Try and keep the conflict and its resolution between the parties involved, unless there is something that others MUST know.
4. Agree to communicate openly, respectfully, and directly with each other.
5. Agree not to personally attack each other’s character
Remember, conflict is inevitable! It is important to resolve conflict rather than avoid it. If you follow these steps, you are much more likely to see a much more positive resolution than if you were to actively avoid or place blame. It takes practice to learn the steps, but it’s important not to get discouraged or give up. You’re only human after all. But you can and will learn to successfully resolve conflict.