The fact that each one of us is a unique human being with our own special talents, gifts and natural tendencies, is a guarantee that conflicts will arise. Conflicts do not have to impede our progress, if we choose the correct response, they can become great catalysts to our success.
Here are 15 practical ideas that you can use when dealing with a conflict in any relationship.
- Back away from conflicts. If you know someone is coming to pick a fight or provoke dissonance, try as much as possible to avoid that situation. Learn to spot conflicts in utero, before they are born, and back away.
- If a conflict already exists, don’t suppress the discomfort. Don’t pretend that all is well. Don’t put off dealing with the person or persons involved. Make an appointment and address the issue at an appropriate time, as soon as possible.
- Use the meeting as an opportunity to turn your opponents into supporters. As Abraham Lincoln said, “ destroy your enemies by turning them into your friends”.
- Conflict resolution is important work. Conflicts cause stress and stress shortens life. Therefore take the time to prepare diligently for the encounter. The chance to unload the stress of a conflict is a wonderful gift. It could save you from a heart attack. So prepare well. Don’t only prepare the facts and rehearse your arguments, but prepare yourself emotionally. Eschew all frustration, anger, bitterness, revenge or hostility and fill your thoughts and your mind with feelings of empathy, kindness, humility and patience. Aim to be your wisest and noblest self when dealing with a conflict.
- Make some rules that will govern the way the meeting or conversation must proceed.
- Write down the goal or goals that you want to achieve from the encounter. For example: “I want us to agree never to shout at each other again, unless the house is on fire; or I want us to agree to get out of debt” or whatever. Go to the meeting with clear outcome goals.
- In addition to the outcome goal or goals, adopt another type of goal, a behavioral goal or performance goal to govern how you will behave during the meeting. Whereas the outcome goal does not depend entirely on you alone, the behavioral goal is entirely in your hands. Here are a few examples: “I’m going to sit up straight and maintain eye contact. I am going to listen opportunistically and never interrupt. I’m going to take notes”.
- Leave your ego at the door. Do nothing and say nothing out of a desire to look superior. Self-aggrandizement is absolutely forbidden. Boost the other person’s ego if at all possible. This is not a contest. This is not about winning. You win a fight but you resolve a conflict.
- Define the problem clearly. Stick to the facts and leave blame, criticism or revenge out of it – just the fact. Beware of negative emotions such as envy, hostility, jealousy and self doubt.
- Describe clearly the particular behavior or habit you observe, and not your interpretation of it. For example, it is better to say “I noticed you arrived at 4:30 pm,” rather than “you are always late”. Resist the temptation to condemn.
- Banish judgment. Don’t judge something as bad because it is unfamiliar to you or at variance with what you believe. Embrace curiosity. Adopt an inquiring attitude and try hard to understand. This draws the other person to you. Empathy is amazing.
- Refuse to defend yourself. When you are accused of something, turn the spotlight on the problem you are here to solve and focus on that and not on you or the other party.
- Give up being right in favor of being happy. Admitting errors clears the score and leaves you better than before.
- Communicate with clarity, courtesy, consideration, constructiveness, conciseness and congruence.
- Listen more than you talk. The less you talk the stronger you become. Silence is strength.
- Lower your level of tension before and during the meeting. Breathe in deeply and slowly thru your nose; and as you breathe out, relax all your muscles. Try to breathe like this for the duration of the meeting or conversation.
- Beware! Negative emotions abound. Hostility can easily be triggered. Put on an attitude of understanding and acceptance, and move far away from the arena of revenge or blame.
- Stay on top of your emotions. Notice how you feel and stay lifted. Stay positive.
If you are slow to anger, you are better than the mighty, and if you can rule your spirit you are grater than any general who conquers a city.
“ In all the trade of war no feat is nobler than a brave retreat”
What is the most common cause of conflict between you and anyone?