How to resolve conflicts: (Strategies, techniques and conflict resolution skills)

Where ever there is human interaction, conflict is an obvious outcome. And often we struggle to figure out how to resolve conflicts, though we know conflict resolution is the only approach.

Conflicts occur almost everywhere. We experience them very often in any social setting, workplace, and in family relationships. 

The sources of the conflicts may be many.

However, if we do not recognize the signs in the earlier stage, those misunderstandings evolve and ruin the entire relationship or organization.

Therefore, it is essential to master conflict resolution, strategies, techniques, and conflict resolution skills are must handle any conflict.

So,

What is conflict?

Definition of conflict: According to Follett, Conflict is the appearance of difference. Differences of opinions, views, and interests.

Related: How to be honest at the workplace, with friends, in relationships and with yourself.

Why do conflicts occur?

In general, conflicts occur in the workplace or in relationships. They often arise between two or more people who possess different temperaments.

And have variance in their negotiation approach to solve a particular problem or even face difficulties to come to a definite agreement.

The main reason behind the conflict is the miscommunication of each other’s motives.

And also there are broadly many causes that lead to conflicts, as follows:

4 main causes of conflicts:

  • Lack of clarity: Which leads to poor communication and poor emotional intelligence.
  • Lack of clear jurisdiction: Due to lack of role clarity, poor management, and poor leadership.
  • Personality differences: This leads to conflicts of interest, stress, and misunderstandings.
  • Changes within the environment: Leads to incompatibility with one another, lack of role 

Related: How to get motivated: A complete guide to motivate yourself all the time.

How to resolve conflicts?

In times of heated debates and arguments, knowing how to handle conflict and being unaffected by the odd behavior of others is an impressive skill.

Although, conflict cannot be avoided. Yet, one can manage the situation by empathizing with the peer or partner, or opponent.

That can be achieved by self-awareness with a sense of control over oneself.

How to resolve conflicts in the work place?

Working together is not always easy. Especially when people come from different backgrounds, races, and cultures. Their individual differences to incompatible relationships lead to miscommunication. Whenever conflicts arise

Take your goals into consideration by aligning with the company’s values rather than personal beliefs. Ask –

What are my personal goals and organizational goals?

How important it is to me and as a team to achieve these goals?

However, not everyone possesses such innate talents. Therefore, research suggests that one can learn to deal with conflicts by developing one’s cognitive, emotional and behavioral skills.

There are conflicting styles, strategies, techniques, conflict management, and conflict resolutions. By mastering these skills one can create a peaceful environment and resolve any type of conflict.

Conflict management:

What is conflict management?

Conflict management is also called conflict resolution. However, it emphasizes delivering tools to control conflict.

Conflict management minimizes the negative outcomes of conflict and promotes the positive outcomes of conflict with the goal to improve better understanding between individuals or the whole organization or family.

Conflict resolution:

What is conflict resolution?

Conflict resolution focuses on contributing creative solutions through resolving conflict effectively. It involves the termination of any type of conflict completely in any field.

5 Conflict resolution skills

  • Emotional Intelligence skills: Emotional intelligence is the key to understanding yourself and empathizing with how others feel. When you know yourself better about your feelings, you will be able to communicate your emotions to others so effectively without creating any misunderstandings.
  • Effective Communication skills: Communication and conflict resolution always go in parallel in the workplace. In order to avoid conflicts, you need to improve your speaking skills and non-verbal communication such as behavior, gestures, eye contact, and facial expressions.
  • Self-awareness skills: Self-awareness is more than just having empathy. It is about knowing yourself completely, including your weaknesses, strengths, and pain points. When you are aware of yourself, you will make conscious choices and make effective decisions. And also you will be able to manage your stress well. Which is very important in the workplace or in your personal life.
  • Analytical reasoning skills: In times of debates, arguments, or miscommunications instead of feeling offended and taking everything personally, you need to apply logic and analyze the situation from an intellectual perspective rather than victim or bully. For that analytical reasoning is an essential skill for conflict resolution.
  • Negotiation skills: No matter how effective you are about feeling others’ emotions; and how much you care for others; they will hurt you and misunderstand you anyway if you do not be precise in your words. Use words of affirmation when you express yourself and improve your negotiation skills by being a good mediator.

5 Conflict resolution stategies

  • Avoidance: If the matter is not that important, ignoring the situation and moving from the conflict is a wise choice. It saves your energy and keeps your mind at peace. Some problems or conflicts resolve themselves if we just give them time. If not solved, you can approach to solve it with a fresh perspective.
  • Accommodation: If you concern more about maintaining the relationship, then the best strategy is to accomplish the specific goal with interaction. Support your partner and treat them in such a way that they understand you care for them. This helps to manage your conflict instead of building resentment between each other.
  • Competition: If your personal goals are more important, achieve your goals at all costs. Competing is a forcing strategy in which relationships should be sacrificed sometimes at least for a certain time until the misunderstanding clears.
  • Compromise: Just understand that certain goals are not as important as the relationship itself. Give up on certain mundane tasks. Make priorities by realizing when to fight for your cause and when to compromise, in order to get to an agreement and achieve harmony. This strategy is so effective temporarily, when both the parties are at incomparable levels and in stress.
  • Collaboration: Collaboration is by far the best win-win strategy. It involves efforts, commitment, and excellent empathizing skills. When collaborating, relationships are maintained well with mutual understanding. This strategy produces satisfying solutions. Although, it requires plenty of time and energy.

6 Steps for conflict resolution:

  • Step1: Acquire Clarity – When you know the in and out of the problem, the better it will help to resolve conflicts. So, focus on secure clarity in the first step.
  • Step 2: Establish mutual goals – Knowing the individual task and approaching them to connect with each other’s goals can mutually benefit with the less amount of conflict involvement. As everyone will be benefited by the small and effective tasks.
  • Step 3: Consider attainable options – Be sure to make use of available options rather than fighting for the best tools that are beyond your reach and budget.
  • Step 4: Understand the barriers – The important step in resolving conflicts is to understand the limitations of the process, individual knowledge, and the imperfections of the organization. Become better at understanding the barriers and then analyze the whole situation to minimize the conflict.
  • Step 5: Reach the best alternative – If the ideas were burned out and the available options are attached, then look for the best alternatives to deal with the conflicts.
  • Step 6: Ensure implementation – After following the whole process by managing each step with the analysis and other possible approaches at the end step, at any cost try to ensure implementation and reach the end goal before deadline.

Related: A guide on qualities of a person: Human qualities you should know to succeed in life.

9 Conflict resolution techniques

  • Team building:  The best technique for conflict resolution is team building. Great teams can be built by setting clear objectives, developing shared goals, establishing norms, analyzing progress, clarifying expectations, and meeting deadlines with the strategic plan.
  • Diversity training: In a team or workplace if diversity training is implemented, then the outcome would be individuals will grow as a person along with a better understanding of their peers. Implementing self-awareness training reduces discrimination. 
  • Open communication: Taking feedback from the team regularly and planning staff meetings very frequently with the employee surveys leads to a better working environment. Where open communication and free speech inspire us to come up with the best ideas.
  • Conflict management training: Handle conflicts constructively by listening actively, communicating assertively, and solving problems collaboratively. This technique helps to understand the peer’s perceptions and ideas clearly without any conflicts.
  • Resource Allocation: In order to accomplish an activity, allocate resources with economic and productive methods for better conflict resolution.
  • Resources in project management: In managing the project resources, Focus on budgeting, tools, space, time, technology, people, and equipment. Taking all these resources into consideration helps in reaching the goal effectively with a common understanding.
  • Manage other’s expectation: Knowing peers’ capabilities, working efficiency and collaborating behaviors can guide you to many things to know about them. So managing others’ expectations from the beginning itself helps for conflict resolution. Especially when no one knows how to resolve conflicts.
  • Communication and conflict: When our expectations do not meet the specified goal. There emerges a sense of frustration and disrespect and disregard from the peers. So, communication and conflict always go hand-in-hand.
  • Focus on others: Showing your ideas are superior can motivate others to be defensive. Instead of using self-promoting language, first, consider others’ benefits. Focus on other’s self-interest. That will appeal and be accepted by others. Then there will be no need to think of how to resolve conflicts in the workplace.
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10 Tips for maintaining conflict:

  • Accept conflict: Appreciate differences and accept the conflict.
  • Be calm: Instead of reacting to every negative word and misunderstanding, just be aware of your position. Just observe and give it time rather than losing your words. The more you argue, the less effective the conflict’s outcome will be. So choose to be calm.
  • Listen Actively: Focus on others’ needs, and listen carefully by developing a sense of empathy.
  • Analyze the conflict: When goals are really important, at first, give priority to the problem, and later on people by analyzing the conflict thoroughly.
  • Use your words Consciously: Speak only when your words add value to the mutual communication. Attend meetings only when you have something idea to convey. Otherwise, don’t waste your time. This also helps in not creating any extra conflict, if you don’t attend at all.
  • Work together: Together is always better, if both the parties have better self-awareness, empathy, and communication skills. Choose your team effectively and work together for better results.
  • Share your interests: Exchanging ideas when it matters the most creates a good environment. Share your interests, then they will share theirs. In such a way both will be able to understand each other better. This can help to manage the conflicts well.
  • Be creative with your specific conflicts: If conflicts occur, then approach them to solve with a new perspective instead of traditional thinking. Be creative with your problems. Creative solutions will emerge.
  • Focus on achieving a common goal: Focusing on common goals creates a win-win strategy and needs fewer efforts than working individually. Share your each other’s motive, plan and work on it mutually.
  • Avoid conflicts: Act fast and resolve quickly by realizing when to avoid and when to be in charge.
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Do and don’ts of conflict resolution

Do’s

  • Do act as partners.
  • Do cooperate with each other.
  • Do analyze the problems of conflicts to resolve.
  • Do focus on Win-Win Strategy and be each other’s cheerleader.
  • Do empathize with complementary needs.

Don’ts

  • Don’t see them as opponents.
  • Don’t attack and defend.
  • Don’t react negatively and shut down the relationship.
  • Don’t be selfish to take all credit by focusing has only achieved your goal.
  • Don’t focus on conflicting needs.

Conflict resolution: Insights on how to resolve conflicts

Final Thoughts:

Conflict always happens and often results in significant damage and cost for individuals and companies.

Although often avoided or poorly managed, Studies show the skills for effective management of conflict can be improved by learning.

Many pieces of evidence assure when conflict is successfully approached, multiple benefits accrue to the organization and individuals as well.

Related: How to calm down: A guide to calm anxiety and relax your mind.

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Author
Naveen Bommakanti

Naveen is Experienced Psychology and philosophy Writer, self-help and relationship Coach and thought influencer. He has 7 years of experience in Personal development industry.

Naveen’s expertise as a self-help and relationship Coach has been highlighted through his articles in medium and substack to name a few.

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