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Conflict Resolution

April 04, 2020

Conflict Resolution

Everyone faces conflict in varying degrees at some point in life.  Because conflict happens in any relationship, including those at work and at home, no one is immune to its complexities.  How we choose to deal with conflict is unique, as everyone brings his or her own personality and experiences to these difficulties.

Conflict Defined

A conflict is a difference of opinions, priorities, or perspectives, whether friendly or hostile.  Because people react differently to conflict, the situation may be difficult to assess.  Sometimes people disguise conflict in sarcasm or cynicism, or they pretend the problem doesn’t exist. How you perceive it largely determines the role it will play in your life.  Those who view conflict as a threat usually experience anxiety and stress, and those who see it as an opportunity for growth can overcome it and even benefit from conflict.

 

Conflict in the Workplace

One environment where conflict is common is in the workplace.  We spend the bulk of our time there and often can’t choose our co-workers.  Since conflict is inevitable, there are real benefits to improving your resolution skills.  Some of the paybacks include improved relationships, a smoother working environment, fewer delays in production, increased communication, and improved health as tension symptoms decrease.  The following strategies will help you in your workplace conflict resolution:

  • Create acceptable behaviors- If you are an employer, provide a handbook of policies outlining acceptable ways to resolve conflict. Give clear examples to demonstrate and model good behavior for your team.  If you are the employee who is caught in a conflict situation, establish what acceptable and unacceptable forms of behavior are.  This will serve as a guide to know if you or someone else is crossing a line.
  • Tackle potential conflict- If you sense tension in the workplace, take a proactive stance. Does a relationship feel strained, or do you feel a disagreement brewing?  Calmly confront the other individual with honesty.  This could prevent a future blowup from occurring. 
  • Choose your battles- Not every little item is worth the conflict. There are times to take responsibility for your own emotions, perspectives, and opinions.  But there are also legitimate reasons to resolve conflict between you and a co-worker.  Knowing when to let things slide and when to take action about conflict makes for a more successful work environment.  
  • See growth in conflict- Being able to resolve conflict in relationships is a sign of maturity. When you are able to view conflict, at work or home, as an opportunity for growth instead of something to be avoided, you will be able to reach a resolution more easily and earn the respect of others. 

Take Action through Listening

In the middle of a conflict, you might find yourself tuning the other person out to better prepare your argument.  If you find yourself waiting your turn to speak instead of legitimately listening, you will probably remain stuck right in the middle of the problem.  The following tips demonstrate how to resolve conflict with listening skills:

  • Listen actively- Active listening aims to understand the thoughts, feelings, and emotions behind what the other person is saying. What are the assumptions, cultural values, and beliefs behind his or her message?  What does their body language say?  Paying attention to these details will also help you understand what is motivating their behavior and help you be able to put yourself in their shoes. 
  • Acknowledge the message- You don’t have to agree with the other person to respect and validate their opinion. Recognize their value as a fellow human being and affirm the importance of their beliefs.  Listening is a way to communicate their worth and your respect, both in your verbal and nonverbal language. 
  • Know your message- Before you respond, consider your own emotions and thoughts about the situation in conflict. Gather these thoughts before the conversation occurs, so that you can be prepared and be ready to listen to the response.  Otherwise, you may be tempted to form your own rebuttal while the other person is speaking.  Pre-determine how you can best communicate your needs, interests, values, and principles.

 

Conflict in life is guaranteed and often it will be unexpected.  When you are able to calmly respond to an individual your viewpoint is more likely to be understood.  No one wants to feel like the other person is simply trying to win an argument.  Using statements beginning with “I” instead of “you” is another helpful way to diffuse tension.  For example, “I felt frustrated when you didn’t follow through with your commitment,” is very different than, “You never do what you promise.”

 

Some conflicts simply cannot be resolved without a mediator of some sort, so don’t feel discouraged if you have to bring in a third party.  If you are facing a tough situation, reach out to a neutral person, like a licensed counselor or therapist or your human resources officer.

 

The long-term effects of unresolved conflict are often far more damaging than the short-term discomfort of resolving them.  With the right mindset and a little practice, you will start seeing conflict as a growth opportunity, one that will help you achieve your goals and create healthy relationships. 

 

Want to talk to a counselor today about this? 

Call Amplified Life at 800-453-7733 and ask for your “Free 15 Minute Phone Consultation" with one of our licensed counselors. We’ll listen, answer questions you may have, and help you plan next steps.

 

Sources

http://oscr.umich.edu/article/tips-and-tools-constructive-conflict-resolution

http://www.forbes.com/sites/mikemyatt/2012/02/22/5-keys-to-dealing-with-workplace-conflict/