Conflict is natural. You cannot always agree with everyone on everything, otherwise, you may be suffering from symptoms of people-pleasing. Whether it be with your friends, colleagues, family, or acquaintances, at some point in life we have all gone through conflict in one way or the other. However, knowing conflict is inevitable doesn’t mean you have to dread it. What you need to do is expect conflicts to occasionally come up and become a master of conflict resolution before the next “personality problem” arises. Not dealing with conflict is not a solution either, because things build up, and they can eventually explode. Learn how to deal with each and every form of conflict that comes your way, and it will get easier with time.
Here are conflict management tips that you can apply in your life.
- Accept conflict
Knowing that conflict is a normal occurrence will help you to deal with it. It helps to know that things will happen that may cause conflict, and what matters is that you grow from the lessons that you learn. Rather than looking at it negatively, conflict is a sign of a need for change and an opportunity for growth, new understanding, and improved communication. Conflict cannot be resolved unless it is addressed with the appropriate individuals.
- Avoid threats and ultimatums
We’ve all been in situations where we feel threatened by a person’s approach to resolving conflict. ‘The next time you do this, there will be consequences…’ or, ‘You either choose between me and your friend.’ Rather than make things better threats and ultimatums intensify conflict. They may even lead to counter threats and counter ultimatums. Your threats could launch an uncontrollable spiral of conflict.
- Show appreciation once you have resolved the conflict
There’s a reason why at the end of most sports activities, players are asked to shake hands with their opponents. While this may not exactly be a conflict, we sure can draw a lot of lessons from it. Appreciation for the parties involved shows that despite everything you value them. Despite the conflict, you can move past it and work towards your main goal. Thanking your partner at the end of the dialogue even if the resolution isn’t complete, always helps to promote goodwill and open-heartedness, two of the most important qualities in any relationship.
- Separate the person from the problem
One major mistake we make is associating a person with the traits that they’ve exhibited in a few instances. If someone says you acted greedily, it doesn’t make you greedy. You are not that trait. That’s what needs to be understood in conflict resolution. View the problem as a specific behaviour or set of circumstances rather than attributing negative feelings to the whole person. This approach makes the problem more manageable and hopeful than deciding you “can’t stand” this person any longer.
- Focus on the future rather than the past
When you are in conflict with another person, it’s easy for things to blow completely out of proportion. Harmful things can be said, and physical fights can get in the way. That’s why when you are managing conflict, you have to emotionally let go of the past and focus on the future. Often the best way to take ownership of the problem is to recognize that regardless of the past, you need to create a plan to address the present conflict and those that may arise in the future.
- Maintain confidentiality
Conflict can result in trust being broken. Once that happens, it’s hard to regain. Hard, but doable. That said, trust is broken further when you bring in other people and their opinions. Learn to deal with conflict only with the other person or people involved. Keep things between the two of you as much as it is possible. If you are not part of the conflict, then encourage others who are in conflict to deal directly with the person they are in conflict with.
- Agree to disagree
Not all forms of conflict need to end with an agreement. You can agree to disagree and be at peace with that. You can understand that despite your different perspectives on the subject you can still have a lasting relationship. Understand that maybe agreeing to disagree is more than just an agreement to do so. In essence, allowing room for a standing disagreement means that you and the other party acknowledge that a long-term relationship comes with inevitable differences.