Let’s face it, the potential for conflict is everywhere. Conflict exists when the desires, intentions and goals of a person or group are not aligned with those of another entity. You may encounter conflict at work, in business dealings, in social situations, with complete strangers or within your own family. Since conflict is almost impossible to avoid, the ability to resolve conflict effectively is a prized skill, especially if you want to get ahead in your professional and personal lives.
Most people consider conflict to be unpleasant; some prefer to ignore the situation altogether and hope it resolves itself over time. While this is certainly a possibility, in most cases it’s preferable and more healthy to address the source of the conflict head on. Prolonging interpersonal conflict can do long-term harm to a relationship, and unresolved conflict can lead to passive-aggressive verbal or physical behavior. Addressing a conflict doesn’t mean you are creating one. Promptly set a meeting to resolve the conflict before the situation escalates.
How to Resolve Conflict
The #1 method to resolving conflict should be through a nonaggressive strategy, and the #1 tool for effectively handling conflict is the ability to communicate effectively. Here are some tips to help you effectively handle conflict resolution and perhaps enrich the relationship of those involved.
- Stay cool. Remember “The Fonz” from the popular Happy Days series in the 70s? He was cool because his emotions were always under control. Doing this enhances your position immediately because you are coming from a place of reason, not emotion.
Throughout the conflict resolution process, keep in mind you can’t always change how another person will react to a situation, but you can always control your reaction. This sense of control can help de-escalate the situation. I often teach my students that if they don’t react, they can’t over-react. Many conflicts arise out of jealousy and loss of emotions, so make sure you find peace within yourself before addressing the conflict with anyone else.
- Let the other party tell their story first. Listen intently and don’t interrupt. Listening shows that you respect, value and are willing to see the other person’s point. Listening makes the other party feel special and helps build mutual respect, empathy, and understanding. Show that you are willing to take the time to understand what they mean. If you don’t understand something, simply say, “Would you please repeat that? I really want to understand you. This is important to me.” When it’s your turn to speak, they will be more likely to afford you the same consideration.
- Build rapport and find common ground. Look for things you may have in common and build the conversation from there. Agree with what makes sense to you. Say, “I can see why you would think that way.” Speak at a normal pace and use your tone of voice strategically, evoking power with a gentle, but firm, tone.
- Use open body language. Crossing your arms in front of you implies that you’re not open to hearing what the other party has to say. Make eye contact and face people when talking to them. The messages you send without speaking can be just as powerful as what you say. Make sure that both modes of communication match; people can pick up when they don’t. You will come across as being untruthful and you will begin to lose rapport and credibility. Pay attention to the non-verbal messages of others as well.
- Get to the heart of the matter. Anyone can get caught up in emotions and details and complaining… and lose sight of the initial reason for the conflict. Stay focused and on target. If the other person starts rambling simply ask, “So, what do you want?” This will help them articulate the root of the conflict and will help you determine how it can be resolved.
- Step back if things get heated. If a discussion evolves into an argument, stop it in its tracks! When you do this you automatically win, because the other person’s goal is to argue. An argument can’t exist without your cooperation. Sometimes it may be best to back away and have a cool down period to allow the other party to collect their thoughts. Set up another time and date to continue the resolution.
An effective conflict resolution outcome is a result of collaboration, which in turn is a win-win situation. The goal is always to have a positive outcome. Leaders who practice this are far more effective, and garner respect and admiration.
Lao Tzu said, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” Only when we let go of our emotions and attachment to how we think things must be can we approach and resolve conflict effectively and unleash our potential.
By learning to make conflict resolution your ally, and handling all conflict that comes your way with confidence and tact, you can increase productivity in your business life and strengthen relationships in your personal life.
Renowned Performance Trainer in the field of Business and Self-Development, Nikkos (Nikk) Zorbas passionately helps people dream big and release their potential from within. Nikk is the Best-Selling author of “Discovering Your Personal Power,” he has recently released his latest book “Discover Your Business Power” now available on Amazon.com. His monthly columns appears the first Monday of every month on www.MesquiteLocalNews.com. To learn more visit www.DiscoverYourBusinessPower.com/