As the new year unfolds, many of us will set various goals for personal development. One area that always seems to be overlooked is managing and resolving conflict. The beauty of this skill is that it can be utilized in both your professional and personal lives.
While it is clear that not all conflict is unproductive, oftentimes smoldering conflict works beneath the surface to undermine our relationships, and add unwanted stress.
Managing and resolving conflict requires the ability to quickly reduce your stress levels to bring your emotions into balance. You can ensure that the process is as positive as possible by sticking to the following guidelines:
1. Listen for what is said (and felt)
When we really listen we connect more deeply to our own needs and emotions, and to those of other people. Listening also informs us, and makes it easier for others to hear us when it's our turn to speak. For best results: Listen to 'hear or understand,' and not to 'respond.'
2. Make conflict resolution the priority rather than winning (or "being right")
Maintaining and strengthening the relationship, rather than “winning” the argument, should always be your first priority. Be respectful of the other person and his or her viewpoint. By doing so, you increase the odds of a "win-win" outcome.
3. Focus on the present.
When you hold on to grudges or past resentments, your ability to see the reality of the current situation is greatly impaired. Rather than looking to the past and assigning blame, focus on what you can do in the here-and-now to solve the current problem at hand.
4. Pick your battles.
Conflicts are often draining. As such, it’s important to consider whether the issue is really worthy of your time and energy. If you go through life 'searching' for opportunities to be pissed off at the world, you shouldn't have any problems finding a good conflict everyday. That type of demeanor will only serve to bring you down, and create collateral damage all around you.
5. Be willing to forgive.
Resolving conflict is impossible if you’re unwilling or unable to forgive. Resolution can only be found when you let go of the urge to punish. The urge to punish can never compensate for our losses and only adds to our injury by further depleting and draining our lives.
6. Know when to let something go.
If you can’t come to an agreement, agree to disagree. It takes two people to keep an argument going. If a conflict is going nowhere, choose to disengage and move on.
Feel free to contact me at Tom Sheehan if you need help managing conflict at your workplace.