How do you handle conflict?
From demanding mutual respect to listening and then writing, here are answers to the question, “How do you handle conflict?”
- Stop Fixating On the Problem, Zero in On the Solution
- Demand Mutual Respect and Cool Heads First
- Get the Other Person’s Point of View
- Count to Ten, Or a Hundred
- Open and Honest Communication
- Always Listen
- Speak Out
- Get a Different Perspective
- Listen and Then Write
Stop Fixating On the Problem, Zero in On the Solution
Conflict, at a workplace and otherwise, often has reasons that go deeper than the immediate problem that has come to the surface. Digging out every detail is often an exercise that leads to several dead ends before the problem emerges, and this takes a while.
Instead, work towards finding an urgent solution that enables you to de-escalate the situation before it flares up. You can always get into the real causes and find resolutions to them later, but when the priority is to neutralize an ongoing conflict, it is best to zero in on a practical solution right away, present it to all the involved parties, and ask them to move on.
Riley Beam, Managing Attorney, Douglas R. Beam, P.A.
Demand Mutual Respect and Cool Heads First
Even the most prominent conflicts, no matter how serious they may seem at first glance, can always make their way to peaceful resolutions if everyone involved follows a simple rule – keep a cool head and show respect to even the opposition. Differences in opinions are pretty understandable when two or more people are putting their heads together.
These situations take the form of conflicts only when you add hot-headed statements and a lack of respect towards one another to the mix. So, before you even embark on learning about the conflict, lay down the rule that everyone will go forward while maintaining respect for each other and without losing their cool.
Azmaira Maker, Ph.D., Founding Director, Aspiring Families
Get the Other Person’s Point of View
I believe the best step is to remain calm and try to see the situation from the other person’s perspective. This helps to better understand the root cause of the conflict and helps you approach the argument exactly from where it’s coming, allowing you to better understand the other person’s point of view and allowing you to respond in a way that fosters a productive dialogue which ultimately leads to a solution that is more rational, convincing, and mutually beneficial for both parties.
Tiffany Homan, COO, Texas Divorce Laws
Count to Ten, Or a Hundred
I think the first thing to say is that ignoring conflict only multiplies it. If you don’t address it quickly, it can get out of hand. But one of the best tips I can give is to remain as calm as possible if conflict occurs. I really like the quote by Thomas Jefferson which I live by; he said, “When angry, count to ten. If very angry, count to a hundred.”
Conflict in anger can make things a lot worse, so if you’re in a conflicting situation, just remain calm, avoid any personal attacks from the other party, and try to stay focused on your end goal, which is to resolve the conflict.
Danny Collins, Technical Director, Reg Car Check
Open and Honest Communication
Problems often develop and compound when there is a breakdown in communication. This is true in most aspects of life – personal and business. The human element of emotion often plays a role in conflict development and can play an important role in conflict resolution.
There are two sides to every argument, and life is about compromise. When reasonable and honest people disagree, open and honest communication may go a long way in de-escalating or resolving conflict.
Derek Colvin, Attorney, Waldrop & Colvin
The first step is always to listen. It sounds simple, and maybe that’s why people forget it. But it’s crucial. No conflict can be truly resolved without the intention of understanding the other party. So ask a lot of questions and acknowledge what the person has to say – what they think and feel. You don’t have to agree.
What you need is understanding. Stepping back and listening before jumping into action is one of the best things you can do when conflicts arise. A lot of them come from miscommunication, so sometimes this simple step is enough to resolve the issue. If it isn’t, it puts a solid ground for finding a solution.
It gives you a different perspective – and might change yours, but also it is a moment to cool down. And searching with a calm mindset is easier than looking for solutions hot-headed. There’s one more perk of listening. It significantly lowers the risk of the same problem repeating – using that tip will make you come back from conflict stronger.
Derek Sall, Founder of Life and My Finances and Financial Expert, Life and My Finances
“No one ever said, ‘We get along well because we do not communicate.’ The role of clear, honest, two-way communication is hard to overstate; speak out! I believe that there is no better way to handle conflict. Sure, some conversations are not as welcome as others, but they are the key to resolving misunderstandings and conflicts. In fact, most of them arise from what is left unspoken. Silence won’t help; neither side can change anything without knowing what needs to be done. So, communicate, and don’t be afraid of discussions. It may not always be easy, but it is ever so helpful and effective.
Agata Szczepanek, Community Manager, LiveCareer
Get a Different Perspective
Conflict is a normal, healthy part of life. It can help us identify and resolve disagreements, and it can also help us grow and learn from our experiences. One tip for handling conflict effectively is to listen attentively to what the other person is saying, and try to understand their perspective.
Sarah Gibson, Director, Proactive Healthcare
Listen and Then Write
When involved in a contentious exchange with a client or colleague, you should first listen to their complaints and not instantly defend yourself. It’s incredibly hard, but most frustrations stem from someone feeling as though they’re not being heard. Just listening without responding aggressively can sometimes defuse the situation.
However, sometimes, you’re 100% right, and the direction of a project or your company depends on the person you’re disagreeing with coming over to your side. That’s when it helps to put the conversation in writing. Tell them you’re going to put some thought into a solution and follow up via email.
When drafting your email, you can start a draft with all of the heated things you want to say and then, through multiple revisions, remove that unnecessary combative language and let your cooler mind prevail. When drafting a response, it’s easier to put your ego aside and focus on a solution instead of self-defense.
Jason Bland, Co-founder, Custom Legal Marketing
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