Conflict Resolution Tips

Conflict is inevitable whenever two people are together for any length of time. Conflict can range from minor disagreements to all out war. Conflict resolution tips, an important part of basic life skills, can lessen the stress usually associated with conflict. As with other basic life skills, being prepared is a key to successful skill-building.

If we consider possible reasons for the conflict, or better yet try to anticipate a conflict, coping will be easier. For instance, it should not be a surprise when an over-tired child throws a temper tantrum. And we all know that yelling never evokes a positive response, so we should not be surprised that when we yell, we usually get very little cooperation. (Another drawback to yelling is that it can raise our blood pressure and give us a headache. So yelling really doesn’t benefit anyone.)

Conflict resolution tips, used to create personal conflict resolution strategies, are helpful in highlighting the positive side of every conflict. Sometimes the positive may be no more than: It could have been worse, or Now I know I it is best to stay away or limit my interaction with that person. Most of the time, however, there can be real benefit to conflict. Although hard to believe, conflict can actually strengthen relationships by increasing each person's understanding of the other person's position, opinions and thought process.

Of course, if conflict is to be positive, both sides must use their individual AREA of Control to take charge of their actions, reactions, emotions and attitude. Practicing self-discipline, particularly in the area of anger management, along with stress management skills, can also be helpful in managing conflict.

Alway keep in mind, however, that one person cannot successfully handle conflict all by himself or herself. If the other person refuses to participate, setting boundaries may be the only option. Conflict resolution tips are easily combined to develop a personal strategy for managing conflict. Developing might also be helpful.


General Conflict Resolution Tips

The following are general tips that can be used to better handle both minor disagreements and major conflicts - regardless of where they occur.

Stay Calm.

Easier said than done in most cases, but well worth the effort. Even a few minutes can make a difference. It allows time to lessen emotion and think about how the conflict should be approached. (A short bathroom break or getting a cup of coffee before addressing the conflict might be options, depending on the circumstances.)


How important is this conflict? How important is this relationship?

If a store clerk makes a political statement you don't agree with, is it really worth a two-hour argument? Consider it a difference of opinion and walk away.

How do I want to handle this conflict?

Control: In some cases, as a first responder or the parent of an eight-year-old, control may be the best option. Whenever possible, however, include the other person's input as part of the outcome.

Negotiation: This usually means investing a great deal of time finding a third option that is not strictly one side or the other, but includes the main points of each.

Compromise: This is less intense than negotiation. Each person is happy to get some of what they want.

Acceptance: One person accepts the other person's position. When the outcome isn't really important to us, it is okay to give in. We should not simply give in, however, if the outcome is going to affect us in a negative way.

Avoidance: Some things are just not worth the time spent arguing. And sometimes it is best to agree to disagree. Even in long-term relationships, there are often topics about which the two will never agree. (A political issue is a good example.) Since everyone is entitled to their own opinion, this topic is just not discussed.


Stay focused on the conflict at hand. Only discuss topics directly related to this conflict. Don't bring up other people or other situations that have nothing to do with the current problem.


Just as we have a right to be heard – without interruption - in matters that affect us, the other person has that same right. Instead of continually thinking about what you will say next, listen to and consider the other person's position. You don't have to agree, you do have to listen. This may mean having a moment of silence before responding, but that's okay. Thinking first is always a good idea.

Create the solution together.

The best solutions involve both people. Everyone wants to feel included in the solution - even if they choose to simply accept the other person's position. When people feel they are a part of the solution, they will often go out of their way to support or implement it.

Restate solution.

This is of the most important conflict resolution tips. Restate the final solution to be sure the understanding of agreement is the same on both sides. If both sides interpret a general agreement in very different ways, future conflict - that starts back at square one - is almost guaranteed. Generally, it only takes a few minutes to restate a solution. Undoubtedly, this is time well-spent.


No one is perfect. Having the skills to handle conflict does not mean we will always practice them. We can only try to do our best. On the other hand, having conflict resolution skills means we can identify our mistakes quicker and correct them. There is nothing wrong with apologizing when we have made a mistake.


Conflict Resolution Tips - Conflict Resolution in Relationships

Conflict is inevitable. There is no perfect relationship - casual, formal, or intimate - in which both members are always happy and agree on everything. Expect conflicts from time-to-time, so you are not completely surprised when one occurs. In preparing for conflict in a relationship, become familiar with the general conflict resolution tips outlined in the previous section and consider the following areas:

• Strengthen personal and interpersonal skills.

If we have strong personal strengths (character, self esteem) and strong relationship skills (allowing for different perspectives, assertiveness ) successful conflict resolution will be easier to achieve.

• Consider the importance and depth of the relationship.

Is this a relationship in which you have invested time and energy?

The level of mutual trust and respect in the relationship will help to determine how the conflict should be handled. The deeper the trust and respect, the less you have to worry about dishonesty or hidden agendas. This should make it easier to stay calm and focused. Of course, there is no guarantee.

If this is a casual relationship with much less mutual trust and respect, how we handle the conflict will be more guarded. It will be more important to think before speaking. This will keep us from getting too personal or saying things that could easily be misinterpreted if this person does not know us very well. They may not be familiar with our mannerisms and not know whether we are joking or making a serious point.

• Try to give the benefit of a doubt.

Although some caution is good, being overly suspicious of everyone and everything they do can lead to unnecessary conflict. Instead of jumping on a single statement or action, consider whether this is an isolated incident or a pattern. Certainly if it is a pattern of behavior it needs to be addressed. If it is an isolated incident that seems out of character for this person, however, take some time to explore possible reasons for the behavior. It could be that something else is bothering them, which has nothing to do with their interaction with you.


Conflict Resolution Tips - Workplace Conflict Resolution

Conflict is inevitable. There is no perfect workplace where everyone is happy all of the time and agrees on everything. Expect conflict from time-to-time, so you are not completely surprised when one occurs. In preparing for conflict in the workplace, become familiar with the general conflict resolution tips and the tips for handling conflict in relationships outlined in the previous sections and consider the following areas:

• Personal and professional lives should be similar.

Although the workplace is a separate and distinct area of our lives, the personal and interpersonal skills used there should be no different than those used in our personal lives. (Of course, if the skills used in the workplace are better than the skills used at home, we may want to adapt them to our personal life.) The character and level of self esteem we show in one area should be the same in the other.

Adapting skills is one thing; totally creating another set is another. We all know people who seem to be one person at work and a totally different person at home. They may be kind, considerate and pleasant in on place and rude, obnoxious and moody in the other. Choose the best you and practice those skills in both areas. Being one person all of the time makes life and conflict resolution much easier.

• The workplace is full of relationships.

Instead of looking at supervisors, co-workers and customers / clients as people you have to deal with, try looking at these interactions as relationships. They may be more formal than your personal relationships, but in most cases they are still relationships. A relationship involves numerous interactions over a longer period of time. This could definitely apply to many supervisors, co-workers and customers / clients.

As with any relationship, mutual trust and respect are most important. It is therefore important to try to build trust and respect in workplace relationships. Without some level of trust and respect, conflict is more likely to develop. The question then becomes: How much conflict am I willing to put up with? Before exploding and walking off the job, consider whether or not you can limit or end that particular relationship. If not, it may be time to look for another job.