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One of the best ways to cope with conflict is to avoid it. Often we can anticipate in advance what kinds of problems may emerge and take steps to address them. These steps are called “Preventions.” Here a few you can use with a partner or group to prevent conflict.
AGREE ON GOALS. Make sure the people with whom you work and socialize want the same things. If you have separate agendas, you’ll be working against each other. For example, a new couple consisting of someone with serious, long-term intentions will have problems if their partner is only looking for casual companionship. If a team consists of someone who wants to win the championship, they will bump heads with someone who’s merely looking to break personal records. Discuss in advance what everyone wants and make sure your goals are compatible.
AGREE TO COMMUNICATE. This may seem obvious, but often a person will say “I didn’t think I could talk to you about this.” Agree that conflict is bound to come up, so it is necessary for all parties to share their feelings and listen to the feelings of others.
STAY COMMITED TO SHARED GOALS. Don’t allow ego to get in the way. Focusing on what you are working towards will prevent issues from getting personal.
EXPECT AND RESPECT DIFFERENCES. As hard as we try, we cannot change people. We’re much better off respecting them for who they are and learning to tolerate some behaviors. Be willing to compromise. If someone has a behavior you truly cannot tolerate, it may mean your relationship cannot work. But before breaking up or quitting the group, be sure your intolerance is truly out of personal need and not out of stubbornness.
BRAINSTORM POSSIBLE PROBLEMS BEFORE THEY OCCUR. Discuss what issues other people face in certain situations and how you will handle these issues should they arise. Doing this before you’re emotionally invested will allow you to keep a cool head and prevent any nasty surprises.
But even if you take all of this advice, conflict will sometimes be unavoidable. To learn more about managing conflict that has already arisen, read the article Resolving Conflict or check out the Jump Start Leadership Workbooks.
Scott Greenberg, Speaker, Author, Leadership Consultant Providing motivation, team building and leadership training for groups and individuals looking for optimum performance.