In a perfect world, people in conflict would work things out and emerge stronger. In the real world, conflict can be complicated and take some time to resolve. While we firmly believe that the vast majority of conflicts can come to successful resolution, it takes time and some work on your part. How do you get the job done in the immediate aftermath of conflict?
Examine self-deception. The Arbinger Institute defines self-deception as “the problem of not knowing—and resisting the possibility—that one has a problem, or contributes to problems. In other words, most people feel that others cause problems, but few people feel that they themselves cause them.” Recognize that all parties involved in the conflict are fallible, even you.
Practice selective avoidance. Until you’re able to interact with the other person(s) calmly, it is fine to limit contact. Make sure you are actively working toward resolution, because this strategy isn’t appropriate for more than a day or two.
Examine the source. Until you know the real cause of the conflict, you cannot settle it. Conflicting styles, goals or perceptions, for example, require different methods for resolution. MindTools has identified eight causes of conflict, and recommends interventions for each.
Focus on results, not winning. Remember that you are here to do a job, not win battles. The goal is high performance on everyone’s part, and that won’t happen if you’re more concerned with winning or saving face.
These four tips will set the stage for conflict resolution that is lasting and enhances relationships. Conflict is inevitable, but it does not have to be as painful and prolonged as we sometimes make it. “Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict — alternatives to passive or aggressive responses, alternatives to violence” (Dorothy Thompson).
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