Conflict Resolution Strategies
No matter how good you are or how well liked you are, conflicts are going to happen. A friend will misunderstand you, a coworker may feel like you’ve overshadowed them, and a supervisor might feel left out. Clashes are sometimes unavoidable. But fear not! It’s all part of being human, and while conflicts can be uncomfortable, they CAN be managed.
Try these strategies next time you’re faced with conflict:
1. Define the conflict. Ask yourself and those involved “what is the actual issue?” “what are the concerns?” and “where did the conflict come from?”.
2. It’s not a war. Turn “you against them”, into “us against the problem”. There is no bigger mistake in conflict resolution than trying to win. Conflict does not equate war, so don’t treat it as such. Bring your opponents to the table rather than bringing them to into a battle.
3. Use inclusive language. It is natural to try to assign blame and point fingers to who is at fault. But what if we shifted the language from “you and me” to “us and we”. Adjusting how we view an opponent automatically makes us adjust how we view ourselves and by extension, the conflict.
4. Shift the focus. Instead of saying “this is a disaster” say “this issue presents a real challenge”. By adopting a vocabulary of opportunity, you have a real shot at not only solving the conflict, but moving the relationships forward.
5. Sort fact from feeling. Emotions are helpful in assessing some situations – but don’t let them take over. Stick to the facts and choose to reflect on your perceptions at a later time. Master your emotions and you master the conflict.
6. Focus on similarity rather than difference. Most likely, all parties will want to reach an agreeable conclusion. Build a foundation on common ground rather than furthering the divide. The goal is to come together.
7. Choose to forgive and move on. There may be times when someone else is clearly in the wrong and no matter how hard you try, they just refuse see it. Know what battles are worth the effort and let go of issues that can’t be resolved. Of course it’s hard to forgive and forget. The thing to remember is that forgiveness allows you to give up hope for a better past because it focuses attention on the future.
Christina Philbert is a Higher Education Consultant, Academic Coordinator, and Counselor. Interested in revolutionizing higher education, baking cookies, and painting her nails.