Given the dynamics of human interactions we can understand the reasons for Conflicts. Conflicts occur between family members, workers, colleagues, supervisors Boards of Management in our work or play environments, between organizations and within organizations.
During the many interactions and conversations, we have, we are bound to either agree or disagree with other’s thoughts and ideas. But what happens when we disagree? It leads to conflicts.
Conflict is something that we can learn how to deal with. By agreeing to disagree, and choosing the interests of both the parties concerned, we can move forward.
What is Conflict?
It is an issue between two or more parties who have (or think they have) incompatible goals or ideas. Conflicts may involve deep-rooted moral or value differences, it could because people are too involved, it could be about distribution, or about who dominates whom.
Why is this?
Each of us has very different and unique personalities. It is normal for people who live and work well together to have conflicts from time to time. We disagree with each other because we each see the world differently, we have different ideas about what we want and how to do things. Our individual and collective backgrounds and experiences are different.
We have our own individual interests, goals, perceptions, viewpoints, values and experiences. Which may in most cases be different from many – leading to confrontation or conflict if not handled correctly.
Three ways to resolve conflicts:
Conflict Settlement – Is the imposing of a settlement by a third party, like a Judge or an Arbitrator
Conflict Management – Is regulating a conflict and reducing its negative effects
Conflict Resolution – Is about addressing the underlying issues of a conflict and focusing on the relationship and communication between the parties
Conflict Resolution Skills:
- Quickly relieve stress
- Recognise and manage your emotions
- Improve your non-verbal communication skills
- Use humour to deal with challenges
Responses to conflicts:
Unhealthy responses to conflict are characterized by:
- An inability to recognise and respond to matters of importance to the other person
- Explosive, angry, hurtful, and resentful reactions
- Withdrawal of love, resulting in rejection, isolation
- An expectation of bad outcomes
- Fear and avoidance of conflict
Healthy responses to conflicts are characterized by:
- The ability to recognise and respond to matters that are important to another
- A readiness to forgive and forget
- The ability to seek compromise and avoid punishing
- A belief that resolution can support the interests and needs of both parties
Some ground rules to stay in control – Remain calm and express feelings in words, not actions. Be specific about what is bothering you, avoid making accusations or bring in multiple and old grievances. Most important don’t clam up. No resolution can happen without discussion.
Learning to listen to Manage and resolve conflicts
- Listen to the reasons that are upsetting the other person.
- Make sure you understand what the other person is telling you. Understand their point of view. Repeat (paraphrase)what you have understood so it’s perfectly clear to both.
- Give the person time to speak. Resist the temptation to interject your own point of view. Allow them to speak and feel that you have listened to and understood their message.
- Be Empathetic and express feelings. You can say things like “I want to understand what has upset you.” “I want to know what you are really hoping for.” “I can imagine how upsetting this is for you.”
- Ask questions to understand things better. “Can you explain more about …?” “Is that the way it usually happens?”
- Find a way to appreciate something about the issue, this is a great way to build respect. Saying something like, “I think it’s great that we are talking about this issue.”
Steps to resolve Conflict:
- Identify the source of the conflict.The more information you have about the cause of the conflict, the more easily you can help to resolve it. Ask questions to identify the cause “When did you feel upset?” “Do you see a relationship between that and this incident?” “How did this incident begin?”2. Look beyond the incident:The source of the conflict might be a minor problem that occurred months before, but its possible that stress has grown to the point where both parties have begun making personal attacks instead of addressing the real problem. Ask probing questions, “What is our real issue?” “What do you think happened?” 3. Request solutions: After listening well to what each has to say, as a next step identify how the situation could be changed. Ask questions “What will make things better between us?”
- Identify solutions both parties can support:Look for the merits in each other’s ideas and work towards finding a common happy place.5. Agreement: Try and come to an agreement – ways to avoid such situations in the future. Many a times you may need to have neutral third person help. A person who has both your interests at heart.
Conflicts can be avoided if for a start we stay calm and remember to make the relationship our priority and are willing to forgive. It’s important to focus on the present and only the most relevant and important issue at hand. Last but not least learn to let go.