Resolving conflicts is hard. But there are many things we can do to manage them ethically. The following are tools to understanding conflict styles and methods for approaching, managing, and (some times) resolving conflicts:
Understanding Your Conflict Style
Take this questionnaire before watching the video below.
“Stop. Look. Listen. Respond.” Method
Rather than just reacting to a situation, it is useful to step back and reassess the situation. When we deal with conflict, we often have anger, or one of the parties involved has anger. When people express anger without reassessing the situation, they almost always make things worse.
A conflict situation will involve facial expressions, tone of voice, pitch, timing, body tension. Look at all the nonverbal behaviors in the people involved in the conflict situation - including yourself! At times, you should also look at your surroundings for anything that might be contributing to the conflict situation.
Hear the other person out. Often this is the best mode of discovery. Think of all the times in your own life when you just wanted to be listened to. Others are like that, too. A colleague, a student, a friend - often you can help them and yourself just by listening.
After you Stop, Look and Listen, you can then make a considered response. Note that this is the fourth step, not the first. Responses can be verbal or nonverbal. Conflict participants often feel backed into a corner; considered responses will give them a way out that doesn't involve fighting their way out by having to retrieve a damaged self-image.
Ten Tips for Managing Conflict, Tension and Anger
Are your 'buttons' are being pushed? Here are ten tips to help you manage conflict:
- Share negative emotions only in person or on the phone.
E-mails, answering machine messages, and notes are too impersonal for the delicate nature of negative words. What feels like a bomb on paper may feel like a feather when delivered in person – and vice versa.
- Pepper your responses with the phrase...
"I understand". But don’t just say it… mean it!
- Take notice when you feel threatened by what someone is saying to you.
Resist the temptation to defend yourself or to "shut down" the other person's communication.
- Practice making requests of others when you are angry.
For example, if someone is driving you crazy by eating during the meeting, it is better to make a request of them than to let your anger leak out in other ways such as by becoming more distant.
- Try repeating the exact words that someone is saying to you when they are in a lot of emotional pain or when you disagree with them completely.
This mirroring technique can keep both the speaker and the listener 'centered' in a difficult conversation, especially when the attitude of the person doing the mirroring is to gain understanding of a different point of view.
- Take responsibility for your feelings to avoid blaming others.
Notice when 'blame-shifting' begins to leak into your speech. "I feel angry when you are twenty minutes late and you don't call" is much better than, "You make me so mad by being late."
- Learn to listen...
to the two sides of the conflict that you are in as if you were the mediator.
- Develop the skill of emotional self-control in high conflict situations.
The more that you use your self-control “muscle” the bigger it will grow and the easier it will be to remain calm when tension is great.
- Wait a few days to...
cool down emotionally when a situation makes you feel wild with intense feelings, such as rage.
- Make a decision to...
speak with decorum whenever you are angry or frustrated.