The following conflict resolution practices are helpful in managing disputes anywhere including in the workplace, relationships or other situations where negotiation is needed. Although these steps can’t guarantee a solution, they will certainly increase the chances. By understanding the issue, exploring the options and considering the advantages of a negotiated agreement, you are building a constructive environment for resolutions. Follow these practices to reduce the stress, fear and shock factors of dealing with conflict.

Self assessment

Before you can approach conflict management, you need to be aware of and understand your perceptual filters, biases and triggers. By being aware of these things, you allow yourself to be more prepared mentally, emotionally and physically to respond in an ideal way. Also, ensure that you are taking care of yourself by getting sufficient sleep, exercising, and eating properly. This will help you express your needs clearly and listen well.

Take a listening stance

As quoted by Stephen R. Covey, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” We often tend to “push” when dealing with conflict. It is important that we resist the urge to push and channel our efforts into active listening. This significantly improves the chances that both parties will be able to clearly express and understand each other’s ideas and feelings.

State your needs clearly and specifically

It’s sometimes challenging to clearly express your concerns so that they are understood by the other person. It’s important to use assertive communication, which is the process of conveying one’s needs clearly while respecting the needs of the other party. Just because you have taken a listening stance doesn’t mean that the other person will be able to do so. This may result in a back and forth discourse so it’s essential to not rush the process. In this case, it is important that you hang on and maintain a listening stance. Calmly build from what you have heard and listen well before asserting your needs.

Solve problems with flexibility

When resolving a conflict, it’s important that both parties take one issue at a time and begin with the simplest discussion. Collaborate and brainstorm more than one solution to the problem; doing so will avoid the possibility of judgements and evaluations of potential solutions (a.k.a. the “chilling effect”.) The best solutions are made when mutually acceptable criteria are applied to the decision-making process. Sometimes you may need to be open to other concerns that are beyond your control but it shouldn’t become a tangent. Ensure that the discussion is on track and be sure to summarize the agreement.

Build a working agreement

Finally, it’s crucial to bring everyone onto the same page. As you come to a conclusion, identify and review the agreement to confirm fairness. Make sure that everyone has agreed to implement the solution that was determined together. Also, check back on the agreement so any concerns can be voiced and that all parties are fully satisfied.


K. Nwankwo | DBPC Blog

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