Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship, whether it’s with a family member, coworker, or friend.
It can often be uncomfortable and difficult to navigate. However, learning how to manage conflict and productively resolve disputes effectively can strengthen your professional or personal relationships and create better connections over time.
In this blog post, we will explore strategies for tackling conflict in a healthy manner and look at tips for becoming more successful at navigating disagreements without letting any harm come to the relationships you value.
Conflict is a psychological state in which two or more individuals have competing interests or goals that cause tension and disagreement.
It can also stem from differences in opinions, values, beliefs, or lifestyle choices. And it can be caused by a wide range of factors, including miscommunication, competition, power imbalances, and more.
It may be personal, such as in a disagreement between family or friends, or it can be more structural and institutional, such as racial discrimination or even professional.
Suppose, the design team of a brand gets into a disagreement with the marketing team over some marketing strategies then it's an example of professional conflict.
But none of the conflicts is good, and it is essential to learn how to handle them effectively.
Strategies For Resolving Conflicts
No matter what the source of conflict is, it needs to be resolved.
Here are a few strategies for resolving conflicts and building stronger relationships:
1. Recognize the Cause
To resolve any dispute, take a step back and analyze the situation. Ask one most important questions,i.e. “Why is this disagreement happening?
Suppose a company is facing a conflict among its employees, it needs to understand the root causes. It can be because of a difference in ideology, lack of communication efforts, or something else.
But the company needs to recognize the cause by any means possible.
2. Avoid Escalating Tensions
The key to effectively resolving any disagreement is to stop it from escalating. And the best way to keep any dispute from escalating is by listening and understanding the perspective of others.
For example, a conflict begins between a website builder and a marketer over the addition of a new element to the website. Now, what should a leader do in such a scenario?
In such cases, it's better to listen to both of the party's points of view and acknowledge their opinions. And to end the conflict the leader should come up with a decision that is in the best interest of the company.
In the process of this if one of the individuals is not satisfied with the decision, then it's again the leader's duty to provide an explanation as to why the decision was made.
3. Communicate Openly, Honestly With Respect
Communication is essential when navigating any conflict.
Especially in workplace conflicts. It's important to remember that open and honest communication should be the goal. And it should be done with respect for all parties involved in the disagreement.
Communicate any disagreements in a calm, reasonable manner. And focus on the facts, not emotions or personal attacks. In any conflict, a lot can be resolved if the individuals know how to communicate their problems, feelings, and opinions properly and with respect.
4. Find A Common Ground
Resolving a dispute doesn't mean taking sides.
Instead, try to find a middle ground where both parties can agree.
But it's not always possible to appease everyone. It might happen that some of the parties won't agree with the decision. In such cases, it's best to explain why such a decision was taken and reach a compromise.
For instance, a conflict is going on in the marketing team of a company where one-half is up for social media marketing while the other half is leaning towards investing in paid advertisements.
In such a situation, the leader should look for common ground by assessing both strategies and determining which one would be more beneficial for the brand.
But to make sure that no other further conflicts arise, it's better to explain the reasons behind each decision to all parties involved in such cases.
5. Seek Professional Help
Sometimes, it's hard to resolve some conflicts.
In personal relationships, people often tend to settle their disputes by themselves without getting any professional help.
But if it's a workplace disagreement, then it's better to take help from a professional, such as a mediator or an HR specialist. With professional help, the parties can understand each other's perspectives better and can find a common ground for resolution faster.
Like if one is facing a conflict between two departments in the organization, and even the department heads are not able to resolve it. If such intense discords arise in the workplace then it's better to call in the HR professionals who are trained to resolve such issues in an unbiased manner.
6. Focus on Interests, not Positions
There’s an amazing book on negotiations and conflict resolution called ‘Getting to Yes’ that I strongly recommend reading.
In this book, the main theme is to avoid looking at you and the other party as being on opposite sides or holding different positions.
That naturally leads to a conflicting relationship.
It also focuses on absolute wants and needs. For example, a business owner may want to hire a person at a lower salary than the person is willing to take.
Instead of looking at this as an ‘us versus them’ situation, look for what people are really interested in.
A business owner may have budget constraints or they are not sure that the candidate can deliver. While the candidate may have personal issues and they may want more money to hire for childcare or some other problem.
However, if both parties can have an open discussion the business owner might offer work-from-home to reduce child care expenses. Or the candidate could create a compelling presentation on the impact of their work making an investment in their salary worthwhile.
When you look at interests and not positions, you get the best chance of resolving conflicts.
Build Strong Relationships
Conflicts and disputes can be tough to resolve, but it's possible with the right approach. The key is to get over the emotions and focus on finding a solution.
Most of the conflicts start with a lack of understanding and communication. So make sure to listen patiently and communicate openly to avoid escalating of any disputes.
And if needed, don't hesitate to take professional help. With the correct steps, it's possible to resolve any conflict and keep relationships strong and intact.