None of us can truly say that we enjoy conflict. However not only is it often necessary in order to resolve an issue and for people to move on but, as individuals with many different beliefs, values, experiences alongside cultural and religious backgrounds, perhaps we should not be too surprised that conflict is inevitable from time to time.
It is important, however, that conflicts, disputes or disagreements, whatever we want to class them as, are resolved to the best of our abilities and there are certain things we should take into consideration when trying to resolve a conflict satisfactorily.
Respect for the other person or party is often difficult to conceive of when we are faced with a conflict but we must try. If we disregard the basics of respect for others, then we’re likely to use inappropriate language which might include personal insults completely unrelated to the issues we disagree over which in turn can create a rift from which the relationship might never recover.
Time and Place
It’s important to agree a time and a place (preferably on neutral ground) where both parties can meet to try and talk through their differences.
Keep to the Issues
Make sure both parties have defined the issues before you come to discuss them and once they’ve been defined clearly, stick to the issues only. It’s OK to bring up behaviours, feelings, desired changes and consequences during a conflict resolution but stick to those areas and don’t personalise them. In other words, attack the behaviour but not the person themselves.
Be Prepared to Listen
It’s necessary to allow the person who has the grievance the space and time to communicate their feelings without interruption and for you to show that you are listening to them and taking their views on board. Take each issue one at a time and then show the same respect and courtesy to the person you have a grievance with in letting them respond without interruptions too.
It’s Not a Battle to be Won
Don’t perceive a conflict as a battle you must win at all costs. Look at it as a problem which is going to take action on both parts to resolve.
Put Yourself in Their Shoes
Try to understand the other person’s point of view and visualise how you might react and feel if you were standing in their shoes. Quite often, you might find that you’ve overlooked something which can dramatically change your perception of your perceived grievance.
Agree to Disagree
Once you have explored all of your options, you may find that both sides may have had to make some compromises. Nevertheless, even if you still find that you disagree on some issues, make sure you come away with some kind of workable solution that is satisfactory to both parties and which allows you to put the conflict to bed and to move on in a mature manner. Where possible, try to reach a ‘win-win’ solution for both sides, even If the ‘wins’ on both sides are small. It’s not about winning as we said earlier and if there’s a big win on one side and a perceived loss on the other, this can just lead to resentment and, ultimately, another conflict before too long.
Compromise is important in any conflict resolution as not only does it enable both sides to feel that they are getting something they want out of the resolution but it also demonstrates a feeling of goodwill on both sides to try to reach a mutually satisfactory outcome.
Conflicts will occur in both our personal and professional lives from time to time. Quite often they come about as a result of change which we all have to go through in all aspects of our lives from time to time given that life evolves, it doesn’t simply stand still, so what may have worked in the past may no longer be appropriate and conflict simply enables us to make a few tweaks here and there so that we can adapt accordingly and then move on in harmony.