Dealing with conflict

Conflict is a fact of life. I have spent the majority of my life in conflict…well not actually IN conflict, but at least helping people through it. Even though I know how to handle conflict, it is not always easy. It is important to remember that you aren’t supposed to enjoy it. But there are steps you can take to make conflict less stressful.

The definition of conflict is this: I want something and something is in my way. There is a difference between a conflict and a disagreement. Disagreements do not have to be resolved because they are usually based on opinion or belief. These include issues such as politics, religion, whether a movie is good or not, etc. If you are in a disagreement and want out, here are your options:

1. Agree to disagree
2. Agree with them
3. Seek an expert source (Internet, encyclopedia, etc.)
4. Argue for sheer entertainment value

If it is a real conflict, something that has an impact on your interests, then it must be resolved. Here are six simple steps to get started:

1. Ask questions to clearly determine the other person’s position
2. Acknowledge their perception as real to them
3. Ask them for their thoughts about solutions (“what would you suggest be done?”)
4. Offer your suggestions about resolution
5. Evaluate all solutions based on the degree to which a solution will get both parties interests met
6. If at an impasse seek third party assistance

NEVER attempt to resolve a conflict or any other issue in a moment of high emotional intensity. Be certain to work to understand the other’s state of mind and perception. Do not continue to push a person who refuses to work toward resolution. Find a more productive way to accomplish your goals.

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