Conflict Resolution Behaviors
There are five basic conflict resolution behaviors which will help you resolve conflict in almost any situation you encounter. They will allow you to benefit from positive disagreement without having those disagreements escalate into out-of-control personality conflicts that damage the morale and productivity of the organization. These basics are:
Openness – State your feelings and thoughts openly, directly, and honestly without trying to hide or disguise the real object of your disagreement. Do not attribute negative statements about the other person to unknown others. Use “I-statements” and talk about how you feel and what you want. Focus on current specifics and on identifying the problem.
Empathy – Listen with empathy. Try to understand and feel what the other person is feeling and to see the situation from their point of view. Demonstrate your understanding and validate the other person’s feelings. Comments such as, “I appreciate how you feel … I understand your feelings … I am sorry I made you feel that way …” let the other person know that you are sincere in understanding their views.
Supportiveness – Describe the behaviors you have difficulty with rather than evaluating them. Express your concern for and support of the other person. Let him know you want to find a solution that benefits both of you. State your position tentatively with a willingness to change your opinion if appropriate reasons are given. Be willing to support the other person’s position if it makes sense to do so.
Positiveness – Try to identify areas of agreements and emphasize those. Look at the conflict as a way to better understand the entire situation and to possibly find a new and better solution. Be positive about the other person and your relationship. Express your commitment to finding a resolution that works for everyone.
Equality – Treat the other person and their ideas and opinions as equal. Give the person the time and space to completely express their ideas. Evaluate all ideas and positions logically and without regard to ownership.
Conflicts offer many benefits if we can resolve them productively. Healthy disagreement can have a positive, generating effect. As people are forced to work through a problem to its solution, they get a chance to better understand the point of view of others. Successful resolution of small conflicts can diffuse the possibility of more serious conflicts and result in better working relationships.