Is conflict the norm these days?
We all want to resolve conflict. But how? Sometimes it seems that in families and in work, combativeness can be the norm.
It doesn’t have to be that way. In work and in life, civility should always take precedent if we want to actually get things done – and get along.
Conflict resolution is one of the most valuable skills you can learn in life. So how can we check ourselves in a situation where we feel there is no workable solution? Let’s take a look at ten common sense ways to handle conflict:
1. Go direct.
Clear the air. Whenever possible, always try first going directly to the person with whom you have the issue. Honestly is always the best policy. Sometimes, it is just a cloud or misunderstanding that needs to be dispersed, and one of you has to be the bigger person to address it. Why not you?
This can be hard if you feel as if you have been wronged. But ask yourself how much the working relationship means to you, and peace of mind you can achieve by clearing the air. If the answers to these questions are clear, you will know what to do.
2. Be mindful of tone.
As they say, appearance is everything. If someone assumes you are being condescending or confrontational, they will naturally get their back up and be harder to break through. Keep your tone neutral and your voice calm. This makes hearing a challenging conversation much easier to digest.
3. Consider context.
What is the person you have the conflict with going through, either personally or professionally? Do you have any idea? Perhaps there is a stressor completely unrelated to you that is interfering with their ability to communicate effectively.
Always remember: In conflict, empathy can go a very long way.
4. Choose your words carefully.
Remember what your mother said about counting to ten? That still applies when we are adults. Sometimes I even pause for 5 or 10 seconds to think of the exact way I want to say something, or more importantly, the exact way I want it to be heard.
5. Walk away.
It is important to get your point across, but equally important to retreat so each party can ruminate on the context and message. It is through this quieter space that sometimes, actual progress can be made.
However, be mindful of the fact that time is not always your friend in these situations, and you should not walk away for long. If agreeable, keep it around 24-48 hours. Then circle back and ask the other party if they would not mind reconvening to clarify a few things.
The more time that passes in-between productive conversations, the longer bad feelings and resentment can simmer, ultimately hindering progress.
6. Write it down.
Sometimes a letter can be more effective than a spoken word. But be careful – there can also be a lot of misunderstandings that take place this way if you are more pointed or harsh, and it can send the situation spiraling backwards which may be harder to retrieve. So remember step 4 and be very mindful of tone.
NOTE: under NO circumstances should you have an argument or try to resolve one by texting. Email if you must, but a written (or typed) mailed letter through the post never gets old.
7. Consider another point of view.
Do they have a point? Maybe consider not being so rigid in your view, and consider another perspective. Sometimes, it is just a shift that needs to take place. Would it be so difficult to look at the situation through another lens? Ask for some clarification on their position so you can fill in the blanks for yourself.
8. Agree to disagree?
We don’t have to see eye to eye on literally everything in order for a relationship to work. Divergent work styles can sometimes make our lives more interesting and, yes, productive. Call a truce, and move on.
9. Business is business.
If you don’t particularly care for a person, does it really matter? Can you both be mature enough to still work together is the simple question to ask. Can you stay focused on tasks and strategic business goals, and away from petty disagreements?
10. Move on!
Get another job. Really, I mean it. Life is too short to be miserable! There are plenty of opportunities in the world, don’t box yourself in to one that makes you unhappy. Find your groove and enjoy yourself.
Ultimately, as with everything in life, you need to let your intuition be your guide in tense situations. If you don’t feel the conflict is resolvable, look inside and decide if it may be time to close this chapter in your life and move forward. Better things may be ahead if you just allow them to unfold properly. Remember, when a door closes, a window opens somewhere.
Laura Milo DeAngelis | Owner and Founder | Bergen Concierge Service LLC
www.bergen-concierge.com • 201-303-7301 • email@example.com