Conflict resolution is a common problem for people in their professional and personal lives. Managing tense relationships and navigating through minefields in conversation are skills that everyone should learn to master. It’s inevitable that conflict will arise in your relationships at some point, so what will you do when it surfaces?
Here are four tips to help you lay the groundwork for successful conflict resolution in your home and/or workplace.
1. Commit to Respect
The first and perhaps most obvious way to resolve conflict is to lay the groundwork for treating every person involved with respect. In the workplace, you might want all parties to sign an agreement that they’ll treat one another with respect. That means no name-calling, put-downs, or bringing up unrelated issues.
If emotions are too high to treat one another with respect, allow for some cool-down time before trying to resolve the issue.
2. Be Clear on the Problem
Do you know why you’re really engaged in conflict with the other person? What might seem obvious on the surface could be more complex underneath. It might not be directly about that presentation you gave; instead, it could be about the perceived disrespect in a comment you made during the meeting. Perhaps you did a poor job relaying how much you valued a coworker’s contributions to the project.
Before you can move into real conflict resolution, it helps to define the problem in clear and easy-to-understand terms. Remember that the goal here is to focus on the problem at hand—not past grievances.
3. Pinpoint Solutions
No matter what type of issue you may be facing, you must work to find an agreeable solution to the problem. This is where it may help to have a third-party mediator who can listen to both parties and assist in coming up with a compromise. Empathy in the workplace can be hard to come by, so be sure to enlist the help of a truly neutral third party.
Allow both sides to speak and share what they feel an acceptable solution would be. Practice active listening skills during this exercise and give the other person space to share ideas. Focus on what they are really saying instead of planning your rebuttal. You may find common ground with them and co-create a solution.
4. Use “I Statements”
It’s quite easy for people to move to the defensive when faced with conflict and the need to resolve it. Many people are tempted to use “you statements” such as “you did not do your job.” Instead, you should turn that phrase around and make it about how you perceived the situation and how you felt about it. Instead of a “you statement,” it should start with an “I statement”: “I felt like we were unprepared for that presentation.”
This moves people from the defensive and starts to get to the root of the issue. Plus, it gives your partners an opportunity to practice their active listening skills. Make sure that you listen when the other person expresses their own “I statements” as well.
Start With the Basics for Conflict Resolution
When you aren’t sure what to do with a problem in your life, take it back to the basics with some of the above simple methods for conflict resolution. Working with a coach who can help you learn conversational and debate skills can help make conflict resolution even easier. Hiring a third-party mediator when necessary to resolve major conflicts.
If you need to learn to work on your emotions and resolve difficult traumas in your life, contact our professional therapists at Health for Life Counseling in Grand Rapids, MI, and Ada, MI and online (in the State of Michigan). Working through some of the difficulties in your life can help you feel more balanced and help with your side of the conflict resolution.