Everyone has to deal with conflict at some point in their life. Whether it exists between your family, friends, or with work colleagues, conflict resolution is an important skill to learn and develop to successfully deal with conflict before it gets out of hand. For some people, dealing with conflict seems to come naturally, and their ability to resolve problems quickly and painlessly appears easy. For others, the process can be much harder.
If you’re part of the latter group and often find yourself stuck up conflict creek without a paddle, there are a couple of easy ways for you to deal with conflict successfully (or at least deal with it in a respectable manner). Check out our following 7 tips to find out how you can learn to settle disputes quickly, peacefully, and without fuss.
Dealing With Conflict – 7 Steps
Tip 1: Don’t Lose Your Cool
If you’re in the middle of a conflict that is getting heated, remember that your fiery urge to yell at the other person will get you nowhere. Stay calm, and if you are really finding it difficult, do and say nothing until the storm passes. The golden rule here is that arguing gets you nowhere. You’ll find it much easier to resolve your conflict
once you are calm and level headed, so give yourself some space to cool down before you state your piece.
Tip 2: Let Them Rant Until They Run Out of Steam
Some people just want to be heard and feel important. If you’re in a conflict, one of the best ways to deal with it is to let the other person talk until they run out of things to say. Expelling all of that negative energy and thoughts from their mind gives you an opportunity to hear all of their problems and address them afterwards (if needed). Remember, just because someone has a counterproductive way of dealing with conflict, doesn’t mean that you have to too.
Tip 3: Honestly Consider The Other Person’s Viewpoint
One of the most important things to remember is to never tell someone “you’re wrong” – it will just create a wall between you both and hinder efforts to resolve the conflict. After all, are they actually wrong? Do they have a valid point? Would you take their stance if you were in their shoes? Considering their argument and finding common ground to agree on can be one of the first building blocks to conflict resolution.
Tip 4: Show That You Are Listening
If a person has gone out of their way to tell you what’s on their mind, it is both courteous and cooperative to confirm you have heard and understood their concerns. Using words such as “yes, I understand, you mean that…” can break down a person’s anger quickly, and you’ll find they will be more receptive to what you have to say afterwards.
Tip 5: Don’t Stand For Abuse
There is absolutely no reason for you to be subjected to verbal abuse during a conflict. If the conflict gets heated, remove yourself from the room and give the person time to cool down. Be firm in your decision to leave the room by saying something like “You are getting very angry and saying things you don’t mean. I’m going to give you some time to cool down and we can talk afterwards”.
Tip 6: Take Responsibility If You Are In The Wrong
Accepting blame can be a difficult thing to do, but think of it as an act similar to ripping off a Band-aid. If you are in the wrong, take responsibility immediately and work with the other person to fix the issue. Even if you aren’t in the wrong, consider diffusing the tension by accepting that you could be wrong. You’d be amazed how effective saying something like “I understand what you’re saying and I may be wrong. Let’s look at the facts together” can turn your opposition into your ally.
Tip 7: Think Positive Thoughts About The Other Person
When involved in a conflict, it is easy to think of the other person as your enemy. This is neither productive nor healthy. Changing your opinion of your foe to your friend will make it much easier for you to successfully deal with the conflict. Instead of thinking “This person is so rude”, instead try and swap those thoughts with “Even though they seem angry now, I know that normally they are very courteous and respectful, and they probably have a fair point!”. You’ll find that you calm down quickly and are more ready to listen to their side of the story.
5 Types of Conflicts
If the thought of dealing with conflict still seems a little scary to you, it also helps to see exactly what types of conflict styles are present. After all, once you realize what conflict style is taking place, you’re better equipped to implementing strategies to deal with the conflict. Check out the five main styles below and see what conflict style you have, and what conflict styles you recognize in others.
People who have a competitive style tend to take a stand and rarely back down in the face of conflict. They usually hold a powerful position in the group, and though they can be useful in times of emergencies due to their quick thinking and delegation, they can often leave people feeling frustrated, resentful and unsatisfied in smaller conflicts.
A collaborative style of conflict usually involves putting more effort into meeting the needs of those involved in the conflict. This means that although the person maintains a level of assertiveness, they acknowledge that others have a valued viewpoint and will cooperate with them to get the best solution.
Just as the name suggests, a person who uses a compromising style will try to find a solution that partially satisfies everyone. This usually involves ensuring each member gives up something so that the whole group relinquishes something, as well as has a small “win”. This conflict style works best when the cost of the conflict is higher than
the cost of members losing ground in a conflict, for example, when a deadline is looming in the workplace.
A person who holds an accommodating style will tend to sacrifice their own needs in order to meet the needs of others. More cooperative than assertive, an accommodating person can be persuaded to surrender their position even when it is not warranted, and prefers peace over conflict. Though this style of conflict can be resolved peacefully, it is not necessarily the best style of conflict as the accommodating person can be taken advantage of and not have their needs met.
People who have an avoidance to conflict seek to evade conflict entirely, usually through accepting decisions made by others. People who have this conflict style typically don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings, and so succumb to the other party’s decisions. Though this style can be useful when victory is impossible (or when others are more able to solve a problem), the avoidance style is generally the weakest approach to take in conflicts.