Conflict: Dealing with it Positively

Conflict: Dealing with it Positively

Jane Schuette, M.A.

Word Count: 705
Time to Read: 2-3 minutes

Do you welcome conflict as a chance to debate, think out loud, or have your opinions heard? Or do you cringe at the very thought of disagreement? Perhaps your frustration lies in the fact that just the right wording enters your mind after the discussion.

No matter what views of conflict you hold, the following points may help you deal with those encounters positively.

1. Know the goal.  Clarity on understanding the outcome you wish to achieve is essential. 
 How you communicate that goal will be the key to your success. Nicholas Bothman, author of How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds, states, “ . . . it’s 100% up to you whether or not your own communication succeeds. After all, you are the one with a message to deliver or a goal to achieve, and you are the one with the responsibility to make it happen.”
 Sometimes it is necessary to detach a bit, reminding yourself that the problem is the problem, not the person. That simple idea will go far in accomplishing the goal, resolving the conflict and holding everyone, you included, in the highest esteem.

2. Take full responsibility for the relationship. Your personality is unique and your individual traits will drive how you view and resolve conflict. You do not have control over others’ personality traits or how they use them but you can make adjustments in your approach. Just as the childhood teeter-totter ride is a pretty frustrating activity if each rider does not adjust for the other’s size and power, so is conflict. If one person gives over 100%, and dominates the experience, it is miserable. Check your percentage volume when engaged; are you making the proper adjustments to meet the other person where s/he is, or are you dominating with over 100% in your approach, volume and passion, making it a miserable experience? Decide whether it is more important to be kind or right. When you consider the relationship, accomplishing the task will be easier and the solution will be more innovative. Accountability for the relationship also means taking care of your self including setting boundaries; it is okay to ask for a time out and reconvene at a later time or place. Finally, remember to choose words carefully and ask forgiveness or forgive if hurtful comments have been made.

3. Be open. Listen to what the other person is trying to say, without prejudging. “Please share more,” is helpful in showing gratitude for the “miles walked in his/her shoes,” 
and being open to what resources that can yield to the desired outcome. Adopt what Marc Bowden author of Winning Body Language calls the “yes state.” He suggests adopting accepting language, whether internal or external, such as “yes, okay, good, agreed, certainly, definitely, exactly, sure, true, yeah, totally, always, by all means, you are right, of course, absolutely.”

4. Look in the mirror to match outside delivery with inside messages. Is your inner dialogue filled with criticism? Do you enjoy sarcastic humor and gossip?  We can easily become caught up in these negative activities and at the same time, claim to hold values of respect. This hypocrisy will eventually come back to haunt you! Find ways to bring humor into the situation other than making fun of others. Adopt a policy of no gossip or criticism and fill your internal dialogue with positive affirmations. These actions will change how others respond to you before, during, and after conflict, and in turn, bring about positive outcomes.

When you approach conflict with 100% commitment to a clearly defined goal and take 100% responsibility for the relationships involved, you will reap productive, innovative results.  Most importantly, when you are open and positive on the inside, matching that to your words and actions, you will create a positive and beneficial experience.

Jane Schuette of Wolf Management helps leaders and teams understand and use conflict as a method to produce positive results.  Her work is centered on positive psychology, the scientific research of the BIG 5 and Lumina Spark. To learn more strategies on avoiding or turning troubled interactions into positive results, please contact Wolf Management Consultants.



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