Conflict – Tips for Handling Conflict

Here are eight tips for handling conflict in a positive way.  How well you do may influence your career. 

  1. Listen: Listen carefully to both parties in the conflict. Not only hear what they are saying but also interpret it in the context. There is always more to the story than is first obvious.

  2. Understand: Give both parties the gift of understanding. You do not have to agree with them but it is vital that you let them know that you understand their issues and feelings. Ask questions and listen until you have understanding.

  3. Separate Issues from Positions: Positions are personal opinions on issues. Issues are circumstances and conditions about which there may be disagreement or misunderstanding.

  4. Establish Respect as a Foundation: Respect for the rights of self and others is a basic tenant that cannot be violated. Even if parties disagree over their positions, disrespect for the rights of others is unacceptable. If respect is not given, look for infringement on the basic principles and values of the parties involved. Even people who do not like each other may work together well if they share respect.

  5. Agree to Disagree: Not everyone has to agree on every issue. Sometimes the best solution is to agree to disagree…with respect. Attempting to agree with or please everyone can create more problems.

  6. Tact: Employ tact in your investigation and solutions. Demonstrate your respect and sensitivity to all parties involved. Be professional. Yes, you can do this while being firm and effective.

  7. Employ Boundaries and Expectations: Society functions only through explicit and implicit boundaries, expectations, and rules. They make it easier for us to be individuals and relate to others. Don’t hesitate to set or clarify boundaries for acceptable behavior and to expect compliance.

  8. Coach and Teach: Provide disputants with skilled conflict resolution assistance.

Check out our article Conflict – What do we do?