Conflicts are a part of life. To resolve conflicts without losing friends, co-workers, or even family, you need to be willing to find solutions that benefit everyone. If your goal is simply to “win” an argument or overpower the person you’re in conflict with then you’ve lost before you even started.
To resolve conflicts well, you need good communication skills, empathy, and a sincere desire for real solutions. Here’s a few ideas to help you navigate and resolve conflicts without resorting to the nuclear option of just blowing the person off forever.
• Stay Calm: Before addressing the issue, take a moment to calm yourself. Emotional reactions can escalate conflicts. Nothing that’s been said has ever been unsaid so make certain you mean exactly what you say.
• Define the Issue: Identify the specific problem or issue causing the conflict. Avoid making it personal and focus on the behavior or situation. “Blame” has never resolved a conflict, remember that and you’ll have a chance at a positive outcome.
• Understand Perspectives: Listen actively to the concerns and perspectives of all parties involved. Seek to understand their point of view, even if you disagree. Other people see the world through their “life lens” which is made up of their experiences. If your life experiences were the same as theirs you wouldn’t have a conflict to begin with. Value their experiences as much as your own and it will become easier to see their point of view.
• Communicate Effectively: Use “I” statements to express your feelings and concerns without blaming others. For example, say “I feel” instead of “You always” to avoid accusations.
• Find Common Ground: Identify areas where you and the other party agree. This helps create a foundation for finding a resolution.
• Explore Solutions Together: Brainstorm possible solutions collaboratively. Encourage everyone involved to contribute ideas without being judgmental. But here’s the challenge, you need to exercise good judgment. But to do that you’ll first need to understand that there is a difference between being judgmental and making judgments. When you work to truly understand the other person’s point of view you’ll be far less judgmental. That will lead directly to having better judgement.
• Evaluate and Select Solutions: Assess the pros and cons of each solution. Choose an option that addresses the concerns of all parties to the best extent possible.
• Implement the Solution: Put the chosen solution into action. Clearly communicate the steps to be taken and ensure that everyone is on board with the plan.
• Follow Up: After implementing the solution, follow up with all parties involved to see how well it’s working. Make adjustments if necessary.
• Seek Mediation: If the conflict persists, consider involving a neutral third party to mediate. This person can provide an objective perspective and help guide the conversation toward resolution.
• Learn from the Conflict: Reflect on the conflict and the resolution process. Consider what could be done differently in the future to prevent similar issues.
• Build Positive Relationships: Focus on rebuilding or strengthening relationships after the conflict. Emphasize common goals and shared interests.
Conflicts are a natural part of human interaction, and resolving them effectively can lead to stronger relationships and a more positive work or personal environment. Running from conflicts or trying to avoid them altogether will not solve them. They simply simmer under the surface until they come to a boil. At that point that may be too hot for anyone to handle.
To avoid this, take action to solve conflicts early. As a result, you’ll have fewer conflicts overall.