Managing Conflict

Reviewed Oct 25, 2018

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Summary

  • Get a clearer vision of the conflict.
  • Consider recruiting an expert to negotiate.
  • Relax to allow solutions to emerge.
  • Try coping strategies.

Conflict is part of the natural world. Flowers and weeds fight for nutrients in the soil. People have differing opinions. Companies compete for customers. Countries go to war over religious beliefs and land. Everywhere we look, there is conflict. When we encounter personal or professional conflict, we may need extra skills to cope.
 
Get a clearer vision of the conflict

Ask yourself these questions about the conflict you are dealing with or trying to handle:

  • What are the motives of the conflicting parties?
  • What are the areas of disagreement?
  • What are the areas of agreement?
  • What mutual interests are at stake?
  • How has either party solved conflict in the past?
  • Who is the leader of each party, and what personal stakes do they have in the conflict?
  • If the conflict were solved overnight by magic, what would it look like?
  • What would be some concrete proof that the conflict is growing or decreasing?

If you can answer some of these questions as they apply to your situation, you may be able to better grasp the roots of the problem and its potential solutions.
 
Consider recruiting an expert to negotiate

Negotiation is one way to handle conflict. An expert could ease communication and speed resolution of a conflict. Some expert negotiators are lawyers who practice mediation and negotiation as a way to avoid legal proceedings when possible. Other negotiators are experts in the psychology field (social workers, psychologists, or psychiatrists) who can be very helpful in handling personal conflicts. At an organizational level, there are conflict management specialists who work as consultants. Consultants with training in conflict resolution and change management often can lead an organization through major changes.
 
Relax to allow solutions to emerge

If it is up to you to solve a conflict and the above resources are not available, sometimes the best thing to do is to let your mind relax and allow solutions to come to you while you do other things. Be open to creative energies that you may not be able to use if you are stressed and intensely focused on the problem. Perhaps a game of tennis or a yoga or art class will help solutions emerge naturally in your mind. It is a fact that we are more creative when we are relaxed, and at times thinking creatively is the only way to quell a conflict. Meditate, listen to music, talk to a friend, go out dancing. Try to see the conflict from a new angle.
 
Try coping strategies

When conflict is apparent and there is nothing to do but cope, you can use coping strategies to help handle your feelings and thoughts. For instance, perhaps your brother and your father are having major conflicts with each other, and you must talk with both of them every day. The conflict may have nothing to do with you, so in this case your No. 1 task may be to manage your own reactions to the conflict that surrounds you. Learning some relaxation techniques can be helpful in such a situation. Anger-control techniques also may help if you feel that the conflict is arousing your own anger.
 
Resource
 
Managing Conflict at Work: Understanding and Resolving Conflict for Productive Working Relationships by Clive Johnson and Jackie Keddy. Kogan Page, 2010.

Summary

  • Get a clearer vision of the conflict.
  • Consider recruiting an expert to negotiate.
  • Relax to allow solutions to emerge.
  • Try coping strategies.

Conflict is part of the natural world. Flowers and weeds fight for nutrients in the soil. People have differing opinions. Companies compete for customers. Countries go to war over religious beliefs and land. Everywhere we look, there is conflict. When we encounter personal or professional conflict, we may need extra skills to cope.
 
Get a clearer vision of the conflict

Ask yourself these questions about the conflict you are dealing with or trying to handle:

  • What are the motives of the conflicting parties?
  • What are the areas of disagreement?
  • What are the areas of agreement?
  • What mutual interests are at stake?
  • How has either party solved conflict in the past?
  • Who is the leader of each party, and what personal stakes do they have in the conflict?
  • If the conflict were solved overnight by magic, what would it look like?
  • What would be some concrete proof that the conflict is growing or decreasing?

If you can answer some of these questions as they apply to your situation, you may be able to better grasp the roots of the problem and its potential solutions.
 
Consider recruiting an expert to negotiate

Negotiation is one way to handle conflict. An expert could ease communication and speed resolution of a conflict. Some expert negotiators are lawyers who practice mediation and negotiation as a way to avoid legal proceedings when possible. Other negotiators are experts in the psychology field (social workers, psychologists, or psychiatrists) who can be very helpful in handling personal conflicts. At an organizational level, there are conflict management specialists who work as consultants. Consultants with training in conflict resolution and change management often can lead an organization through major changes.
 
Relax to allow solutions to emerge

If it is up to you to solve a conflict and the above resources are not available, sometimes the best thing to do is to let your mind relax and allow solutions to come to you while you do other things. Be open to creative energies that you may not be able to use if you are stressed and intensely focused on the problem. Perhaps a game of tennis or a yoga or art class will help solutions emerge naturally in your mind. It is a fact that we are more creative when we are relaxed, and at times thinking creatively is the only way to quell a conflict. Meditate, listen to music, talk to a friend, go out dancing. Try to see the conflict from a new angle.
 
Try coping strategies

When conflict is apparent and there is nothing to do but cope, you can use coping strategies to help handle your feelings and thoughts. For instance, perhaps your brother and your father are having major conflicts with each other, and you must talk with both of them every day. The conflict may have nothing to do with you, so in this case your No. 1 task may be to manage your own reactions to the conflict that surrounds you. Learning some relaxation techniques can be helpful in such a situation. Anger-control techniques also may help if you feel that the conflict is arousing your own anger.
 
Resource
 
Managing Conflict at Work: Understanding and Resolving Conflict for Productive Working Relationships by Clive Johnson and Jackie Keddy. Kogan Page, 2010.

Summary

  • Get a clearer vision of the conflict.
  • Consider recruiting an expert to negotiate.
  • Relax to allow solutions to emerge.
  • Try coping strategies.

Conflict is part of the natural world. Flowers and weeds fight for nutrients in the soil. People have differing opinions. Companies compete for customers. Countries go to war over religious beliefs and land. Everywhere we look, there is conflict. When we encounter personal or professional conflict, we may need extra skills to cope.
 
Get a clearer vision of the conflict

Ask yourself these questions about the conflict you are dealing with or trying to handle:

  • What are the motives of the conflicting parties?
  • What are the areas of disagreement?
  • What are the areas of agreement?
  • What mutual interests are at stake?
  • How has either party solved conflict in the past?
  • Who is the leader of each party, and what personal stakes do they have in the conflict?
  • If the conflict were solved overnight by magic, what would it look like?
  • What would be some concrete proof that the conflict is growing or decreasing?

If you can answer some of these questions as they apply to your situation, you may be able to better grasp the roots of the problem and its potential solutions.
 
Consider recruiting an expert to negotiate

Negotiation is one way to handle conflict. An expert could ease communication and speed resolution of a conflict. Some expert negotiators are lawyers who practice mediation and negotiation as a way to avoid legal proceedings when possible. Other negotiators are experts in the psychology field (social workers, psychologists, or psychiatrists) who can be very helpful in handling personal conflicts. At an organizational level, there are conflict management specialists who work as consultants. Consultants with training in conflict resolution and change management often can lead an organization through major changes.
 
Relax to allow solutions to emerge

If it is up to you to solve a conflict and the above resources are not available, sometimes the best thing to do is to let your mind relax and allow solutions to come to you while you do other things. Be open to creative energies that you may not be able to use if you are stressed and intensely focused on the problem. Perhaps a game of tennis or a yoga or art class will help solutions emerge naturally in your mind. It is a fact that we are more creative when we are relaxed, and at times thinking creatively is the only way to quell a conflict. Meditate, listen to music, talk to a friend, go out dancing. Try to see the conflict from a new angle.
 
Try coping strategies

When conflict is apparent and there is nothing to do but cope, you can use coping strategies to help handle your feelings and thoughts. For instance, perhaps your brother and your father are having major conflicts with each other, and you must talk with both of them every day. The conflict may have nothing to do with you, so in this case your No. 1 task may be to manage your own reactions to the conflict that surrounds you. Learning some relaxation techniques can be helpful in such a situation. Anger-control techniques also may help if you feel that the conflict is arousing your own anger.
 
Resource
 
Managing Conflict at Work: Understanding and Resolving Conflict for Productive Working Relationships by Clive Johnson and Jackie Keddy. Kogan Page, 2010.

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, assessments, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as behavioral health care or management advice. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have questions related to workplace issues, please contact your human resources department. ©2019 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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