Conflict is an inevitable and, to a great extent, a productive outcome of human relationships. At its most basic level conflict arises from diversity in ideas, values, cultures, and beliefs; and when dealt with consciously and peacefully it can be a great catalyst for business innovation and personal growth. However, when ego gets in the way and conflict escalates to attack and confrontation, it can hinder business growth and damage long-standing relationships. In this sense, conflict resolution can give you an edge over your competition, and foster both professional and personal success. Here I share with you the three essential keys to effective and painless conflict resolution:
1. Be Specific
The easiest way to ensure a problem-solving session goes awry is by phrasing your argument in general terms. Generalities such as, “You’re never on time”, or “You’re always rude to me”, instantly make people feel attacked and get defensive. When, on the other hand, you address specific events that neither party can deny, such as “You weren’t on time for the meeting yesterday”, or “I didn’t appreciate you speaking to me like that the other day”, you avoid escalating the discussion and help the other person get in the right frame of mind for peaceful resolution.
2. Lead with your emotions
Another way to avoid attacking the other person while still getting your point across, is by sharing how you felt as a result of their actions. The earlier example of, “You weren’t on time for the meeting yesterday” can be even more powerful as, “You weren’t on time for the meeting yesterday, which made me feel unappreciated.” By leading with your emotions and talking about how you felt rather than what the other person did to you, you shift the conversation from a verbal to an emotional level. The other party feels they have mistreated you in some way and feel obliged to make things up to you.
3. Be assertive
Probably the most important key to effective conflict resolution is making your point in an assertive, non-aggressive way. Whereas being specific and bringing in emotion will put the other person in the right frame of mind to resolve things peacefully, you still need to state your point of view clearly and boldly, without sacrificing your integrity or putting yourself down.
There are three main ways of communication:
- Aggressivenessis when you verbally and directly attack another person
- Passive-aggressivenessis when you do so indirectly via sarcasm or talking about them behind their backs
- Assertiveness, which the right way to go
Being assertive is about calmly and honestly stating your opinion of a situation while respecting the other person’s emotions. Talking assertively shows the other person that you respect yourself, and them; and sets the tone of the session to the honesty and understanding required for effective conflict resolution.
George Lizos (MSc Management 2014) is a Spiritual Life Coach and the author of Be The Guru: A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming Your Own Spiritual Teacher. He now runs his own life coaching business. To learn more about George you can visit his website here.