From Gloria Petersen of Global Protocol, Inc.
Today, October 15th, is International Conflict Resolution Day. Begun in 2005 by the Association for Conflict Resolution, organizations around the world are holding events on the third Thursday of October to promote awareness of creative means of resolving conflict and to celebrate significant contributions towards this effort. What can we do to resonate with this movement toward creating peaceful relationships?
The first step to handling conflict is to handle people (and situations) by identifying what you can control and what you cannot control. Learn conflict motivations by understanding real concerns. Your attitude should always be positive and helpful, with integrity intact.
Realize that while some people avoid confrontation, others relish in it. The reasons are typically two-fold: (1) insecurity and (2) over-reacting. Because confrontations are too often unavoidable, the best defense is to be prepared and handle them diplomatically and with finesse. Someone has to be in the control seat in order for a conflict to be resolved.
Three ground rules for handling confrontations to help get you started:
1. Never initiate a confrontation in an open area. Choose a private place and appropriate time. Remain sensitive to the other person’s circumstances (e.g., Is there an unrelated issue stirring in the background?). Do not blame. Focus on fixing the problem using non-damaging words or phrases. Keep in mind that physical wounds heal, however, damaging words are harder to heal and sometimes never do heal. If you request a private one-on-one to resolve a situation and they refuse, let it go. You will be remembered for having made the effort.
2. State your case in terms of your feelings instead of using an attack method. Use a controlled tone of voice. Try to correct the situation without criticizing. Find a win-win answer and focus on defusing the situation.
3. Realize that some conflicts are healthy if managed well. Some people need to vent; however, the “venting” needs to be channeled correctly. This is accomplished by identifying the conflict as a behavior, rather than as a person, and communicating the need or concern in a controlled manner. To totally avoid a conflict, you take the risk of building resentment. Find other options. Be open. Agree on the actions to be taken to resolve the situation or problem. Map out a strategy to heal the situation.
Office politics, personal agendas, and personality differences can all ignite a confrontation. When addressing concerns, it is important to discuss the situation in a civil manner, consider or activate possible solutions, and then move on. If you add kindling to the fire, you risk igniting instead of diminishing the conflict.