Conflict Management

What does conflict mean to you? Does it make your heart skip or your stomach flip? This is an indication of your experiences with conflict. What if I told you conflict doesn’t have to be negative? It is possible to learn and grow from conflict in a healthy manner.

Conflict management is identifying and handling conflicts sensibly, fairly, and efficiently. While this concept is mostly applied to businesses, it can certainly be applied to everyday life. The goal of effective conflict management is to minimize negative results and maximize positive results. Perfect world, right?

Most experts agree that there are typically 5 styles used for managing conflict:

  1. Accommodating
    • This is putting everyone else’s needs before your own, allowing others to always win.
    • Best used when you really don’t care about the issue, if you think you could be wrong, or if a prolonged conflict is not worth your time.
    • It can lead to resentment and is best for very small disagreements.
  2. Avoiding
    • This is attempting to completely ignore any conflict, evading conflict, removing the people involved in the conflict.
    • Can be effective if a cool-down period would be helpful or more time is needed to consider your own stance.
    • This is not an effective resolution tool. It can create bigger conflicts later, make a current situation worse, and destroy relationships.
  3. Compromising
    • This is a search for middle ground from all involved. Each side gives a little so there can be resolution.
    • This is best used when there is a time issue involved (like a deadline) or when a solution is better than no solution at all.
    • This can really lead to all sides resenting all other sides for having to give up something. No one leaves the conflict happy, and chances are minimal that anyone will compromise again.
  4. Competing
    • Competing is where one side stands firm, forcing the other side to back down.
    • Typically used in moral and legal situations, or when there is no time to find a better solution.
    • This can break all future relations and can destroy a company from the inside out. This is an authoritarian style of resolution.
  5. Collaboration
    • This is the best style for creating long-term results. This is considered a win-win for all involved, focusing on making everyone happy.
    • Best used where there is ample time to sit down and talk through everything. This is useful when it is imperative to preserve the relationships of all involved or when the solution will have a substantial impact on many.
    • This can be very time-consuming and is often the most difficult style.

Conflict is a fact of life. How boring would life be if everyone always got along? Yes, some conflicts are taken to the extreme. However, conflict is natural and happens in every relationship at some point.

My endpoint with this weeks’ blog is to help you understand how to manage conflict yourself. How to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem. Conflict can have fear attached to it, which can create a strong emotional state. And let’s face it, effective resolutions do not come from fear.

The first key in managing conflict is to accept that it will happen at some point. We are only human (and there is conflict everywhere in nature… even throughout the Universe). Release your past learnings about conflict and embrace the opportunity to grow as an individual. Conflict is an indication that change must happen. All change is, is an opportunity to grow and learn something new.

Two of the biggest keys in managing conflict are to understand your own emotional state and control your emotional state. Remember that you cannot control anyone but yourself. You are responsible for your own emotional state. You can respond appropriately or simply react and possibly make the situation worse (not just overall, but for yourself specifically).

Another large factor is effectively communicating. This includes actively listening to what the other person is saying, and what’s behind their words. When responding, it is best to use ‘I’ based statements, so the other person doesn’t feel attacked and go on the defense, which typically exacerbates the situation.

While there are other tips and tricks on managing conflict, these are (in my humble opinion) the biggest keys to effectively managing conflict. When implemented from the very beginning, the rest of the conflict can flow smoother.

I will ask again, what does conflict mean to you? How well do you manage conflict? Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

Want to learn more on how to manage conflict?  I can help.

Life and Leadership are my passions. We are all ripples in the ocean of life. All it takes is one ripple to create a wave.

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