How to manage conflict - and come out the other side
Unfortunately, conflict in life is unavoidable. All of us have experienced situations where people have diverse goals, desires and personalities. Oftentimes, this leads to clashes and further animosity down the road.
However, the existence of conflicts is not automatically negative; if resolved effectively, the underlying issue(s) that caused the conflict to rise to the surface may be permanently eradicated. Also, knowledge of how to successfully manage and resolve conflict can lead to improvements in interpersonal relationships.
One method I advocate is the Interest-Based Relational Approach.
Some ground rules:
Relationships are the top priority; in the majority of situations, maintaining positive long-term relationships is crucial. All involved parties should be treated with respect.
Try to keep the person and the problem separate. People generally speak up for a reason rather than to be deliberately difficult. Focus on the issue and not the individual. Make sure you listen first and talk second.
Putting it into practice:
Set the tone; make sure people recognise that problems are best resolved with discussion rather than conflict.
Collect information; make sure to listen to each person's views and reiterate that you value their opinion.
Agree on the problem; it's critical that everybody recognises what needs to be resolved.
Brainstorm solutions; this should be fair and balanced and each person should be involved in the discussion.
Negotiate a resolution; by now, the conflict might be resolved if both sides understand each other’s positions. If a solution has not been agreed, then it can be useful to step away from the problem and come back to it at another time.
Some tips for everyone involved:
Listen with empathy and appreciate each person’s perspective.
Explain issues clearly and concisely.
Encourage the use of "I" rather than "you"; this will help to ensure that no one feels attacked.
Be honest about feelings.
Unexpected benefits of effective conflict resolution:
Increased appreciation; the process of conflict resolution can improve awareness and provide insights into other’s goals and challenges.
Improved group cohesion; when conflicts are resolved effectively, people can develop mutual respect and affirmation of their ability to collaborate and interact.
Enhanced self-knowledge; conflict drives people to examine their goals and expectations, helping them to understand the things that are most important to them and developing their personal effectiveness.