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In Conflict: How to Avoid It, I gave tips on how to prevent problems with people in your life. But the truth is, no matter how hard we try to avoid conflict, it’s bound to come up. The most loving people in the world still have disagreements. Conflict, if managed well, is a healthy component of a strong relationship. If you find yourself at odds with someone, try one of these techniques to resolve your differences:
FIND THE RIGHT TIME FOR DISCUSSION. Usually, this is later, after you’ve had a chance to calm down.
FIND THE RIGHT PLACE FOR DISCUSSION. Go someplace private and neutral.
FIND A WIN/WIN scenario. See if there’s a way everyone can get their way.
ATTACK THE PROBLEM, NOT THE PERSON
GET FEEDBACK FROM SOMEONE NOT INVOLVED BEFORE A CONFRONTATION. Sometimes an objective third party can share a perspective we haven’t considered.
SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD. This wonderful tip comes from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey (also in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey). Basically, it means, before you open your mouth to get your point across, first to try to get the other person’s point. This might change your perspective, and it’ll let the other person know you’re listening.
LISTEN WITHOUT JUDGEMENT.
DON’T PREPARE YOUR RESPONSE WHEN YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING. (We’re all guilty of this one.)
FOCUS ON ONE CONFLICT AT A TIME.
AVOID POINTING OUT HYPOCRACY. Just because the other person is guilty of the same infraction, doesn’t mean you’re justified.
AVOID BROAD CRITICISMS SUCH AS “YOU ALWAYS…” or “YOU NEVER..”
KEEP THE VOLUME DOWN AND BE POLITE.
HOLD HANDS. OK, you’re not going to do this with everyone, but if it’s appropriate, hold hands with the other person. The physical contact immediately diffuses anger and reminds you that you’re both human. My wife and I use this technique and it really works.
BE REASONABLE, SENSITIVE AND COOPERATIVE, BUT DON”T SACRIFICE YOUR OWN FEELINGS. Don’t apologize if you don’t mean it. You are an important person and your feelings should be addressed.
And most of all, remember this:
YOU DON”T HAVE TO BE RIGHT. Most of us fight and fight so we can be “right.” But why is being right so important? What are the real advantages of being right? Avoid thinking in terms of right and wrong, and instead, focus on finding resolution.
For more information on managing conflict, 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.