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Conflict Resolution: 5 Ways to Resolve Conflict Quickly

January 12th, 2006

Conflict Resolution: 5 Ways to Resolve Conflict Quickly

5 step conflict resolution

Experiencing conflict at work or home? Don’t worry, you are not alone.  Most people experience conflict on a daily basis.  People who experience conflict are either 1) discouraged by conflict or 2) strengthened through conflict.  Regardless, of whether or not you have been discouraged by conflict you can learn to let conflict make you stronger by following the five followings steps to conflict resolution:

1)   Don’t Open Your Mouth---Yet!

The first step to conflict resolution is to never ‘fly off the handle,’ overreact, yell, etc.  These obnoxious and threatening gestures will take you and your ‘opponent’ further and further away from the interest of the conflict, so remain calm and remember that conflict can be a good thing.  Also, you’ve heard it a thousand times, but learn to stop and think before you speak.  If necessary, take a day or two to ponder the situation at hand.  You might be surprised to see that in a few short hours or even minutes of utilizing your reasoning powers can alter your views quite radically. 


2)   People vs. Things: Identify the Conflict

Conflict is usually based on an interest that is compromised by one or both of the conflicting parties.  Conflict is usually not based on hate for people, so just because you are involved in a conflict does not mean that people do not like you or that they are horrible.  They are only expressing strong emotions because their interests have been compromised.  To achieve a conflict resolution, simply sit back, take a deep breath and identify the interest of the conflict.  What is it that you want? What is it that your family member or co-worker wants? Could a small compromise on one or both sides allow both people to obtain a better conflict resolution? If so, you have already resolved the conflict in your mind and that is a step in the right direction.


For example, let’s imagine that you tell your husband (or wife) that you want him to spend time with the kids, but what you really want is more free time for yourself.  It is possible that you don’t even realize that you want more free time to yourself, but if you sit back (before you confront your husband) and really think about what your interest in conflicting with your husband is, you might find that your motivation is different than you thought it would be.  To want more free time is great, but to tell your husband that your interest is that he spend more time with the kids sends a completely different, if not antagonistic, message.   If, of course, your desire is truly that your husband spend more time with the kids, then the interest and the conflict resolution solution would be entirely different.

3)  Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

This step is also crucial.  When you realize that you are feeling conflict or are already involved in a conflict, step away from the situation and prepare your ‘defense.’  In every conflict resolution ‘defending your case’ is difficult when you have done no research, and have not considered alternative solutions.  Why persuade with angry emotions when there are so many alternatives for conflict resolution? To prepare ‘your case,’ simply decide whether your conflict is an interest conflict or a position conflict.  For example imagine that you are a manager and that one of your employees consistently arrives late.  There are two ways to address this conflict.  The first is in the interest of the conflict.  The conflict interest in this situation is that the employee, by arriving late, is negatively influencing other employees and is contributing less to the success of the company.  This conflict can be handled by simply explaining the interest to the employee and providing rhetorical consequences for his/her subsequent behavior.  However, surprisingly enough, many managers also think of the conflict as a position conflict.  They relate the conflict to their own position as a manager and when confronting the employee in question they are often overbearing or argumentative.  Almost everyone at some time or another participates in conflicts that are both interest and position related, but if you take a step back and focus more on the interest in the conflict vs. the position a positive conflict resolution in generally easier to come by. 


4) Accept Feelings for What They Are

Even after you have prepared and presented your defense, your ‘opponent’ will still often express anger, hurt or frustration.  Don’t try to convince them that their feelings are wrong, but don’t take their words as affronts to your character.  They are truly feeling these emotions, but more than anything they probably just want to say what they feel and be done with it. 

5) You Win Some and You Lose Some

Remember that if your resolution/discussion does not turn out as you planned or if your ‘opponent’ will not budge in his/her views, then it is time to decide whether or not you should continue the ‘fight.’  Often times it is better to strategize and lose a few battles in order to win the war of interests.

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Author: Marci Crane
Contact Marci

For more information in regards to medical conflict resolution, business conflict resolution or general conflict resolution, please feel free to contact Ethicom.



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