How To Manage Conflict Effectively: 20 Essential Ways

Today you’re going to learn how to manage conflict effectively.

A conflict is not just a simple disagreement, but rather a complex issue between two or more individuals that impacts their relationship. Whether you are attempting to solve a conflict with someone else or mediating between two coworkers, the resolution process has similar components.

It involves initiating a conversation and being open with each other, actively listening and trying to comprehend each other’s perspective, and ultimately working towards a compromise that satisfies everyone involved.

How To Manage Conflict Effectively:

1. When dealing with a disagreement, it is important to consider whether the response is proportionate to the situation.

If someone’s reaction seems excessively angry or upset, it may be a sign of an underlying internal conflict or source of stress. Alternatively, if the anger is directed towards another person, it could indicate a conflict that needs to be resolved.

It is important to approach the situation with caution and prevent it from escalating to violence or getting out of control. For instance, if you become extremely angry at your friend for breaking a disposable plastic cup, it may be worth examining your relationship to determine if there are deeper underlying issues that are causing your reaction.

2. Consider the underlying tension that exists between individuals outside of specific disputes.

When a conflict exists with someone, negative feelings towards them may persist even when there is no current dispute. If you find yourself feeling upset or uncomfortable in the presence of the other person, it may be a sign that a conflict needs to be resolved.

It can be tempting to avoid addressing the issue to avoid further discomfort, especially if it is just a simple rivalry. However, it is important to feel comfortable approaching the other person and seeking reconciliation to alleviate any underlying tension.

3. It is common for people to perceive comments and actions based on who said or did them.

However, if you find yourself consistently disregarding the ideas or work of others without much consideration, it may be a sign of an underlying conflict with them. Before addressing the conflict, it can be helpful to separate your personal relationship with them from their contributions, so you can evaluate their comments and work objectively.

For instance, if one coworker sends back a report for edits without thoroughly reviewing it, it may be worth examining if there is an underlying conflict between them and the report’s author that is impacting their perception of the work.

4. Maintaining a calm demeanor is essential in resolving conflicts.

Letting tempers flare can hinder progress and prevent a peaceful resolution. The ultimate objective should be to find a way to make amends rather than seeking revenge.

If necessary, communicate through a mediator and propose taking a break to cool off before discussing the conflict further. Agree on a time and place to resume the discussion when both parties are calm and ready to work towards a resolution.

Additionally, it can be helpful to shift the focus from proving a point to finding a solution. Asking the other party for their input and suggestions can alleviate some of the pressure and promote a more relaxed atmosphere. When emotions are running high, it may be necessary to take a quick break to allow for a calm and productive discussion.

5. Before meeting with the other party to address the conflict, it can be helpful to make a list of concerns.

Take some time to reflect on the situation and identify the specific factors that led to the conflict. Try to approach this process as objectively as possible by setting aside personal history and personalities.

Focus on the root of the issue and identify what changes need to be made to resolve the conflict. By clarifying your concerns, you will be better prepared to engage in a productive and effective discussion with the other party.

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6. When engaging in a discussion to resolve a conflict, it is important to allow the other person to speak and express their concerns.

While it is important to make your own points, interrupting the other person will only exacerbate the conflict. Listening to the other person’s perspective is critical to finding a resolution, even if you disagree.

The goal is not necessarily to determine the “correct” solution, but to understand each other’s perspectives and work towards accepting each other’s differing views. Ultimately, the focus should be on identifying and addressing the root of the conflict rather than getting bogged down in disagreements.

7. During the conflict resolution process, it’s essential to seek clarity and ask questions if you’re unsure of the other person’s perspective.

However, be mindful of the timing and tone of your questions. Wait for a pause in the conversation to ask a follow-up question, and avoid asking sarcastic or combative questions that may escalate the situation.

Remember to respect the other person’s opinions and avoid making them feel attacked or belittled. Asking a constructive question such as, “When did you first notice the issue?” can help clarify the timeline and understand the other person’s perspective.

Conversely, an antagonistic question like, “Did you even try to contact me in any other way?” may trigger a defensive reaction and impede the conflict resolution process.

8. Try to brainstorm and consider different solutions to the conflict with the other person.

It can be helpful to think about the problem before the meeting and again during the discussion. Allow the conversation to move in different directions as long as it remains respectful and productive.

Remember that resolving the conflict is the goal, even if it means compromising on your preferred solution. For example, if the conflict arose because your friend borrowed your car without permission and almost got into an accident, you may need to come to a compromise where they are allowed to borrow your car if they ask beforehand and agree to drive safely.

9. If you notice that the discussion is getting too intense or emotional, it’s perfectly acceptable to take a break.

It’s important to recognize when you or the other person need time to calm down, and it’s better to take a break before the situation escalates. Taking a break can also give you time to reflect on the other person’s perspective and proposed solutions. It’s important to take as much time as you need before continuing the conversation.

10. In order to facilitate conflict resolution, it is important to maintain a positive tone and avoid negative language.

Instead of using words such as “can’t,” “don’t,” or “no,” focus on finding solutions to the conflict. Using negative language will only serve to prolong the conflict and prevent a resolution from being reached.

For example, instead of saying “I don’t like the way you borrowed my car without asking,” try saying “let’s establish some guidelines for borrowing my car in the future.” By focusing on finding a solution rather than dwelling on the past, you increase the likelihood of a successful resolution.

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11. Expressing agreement on some aspects of the conflict can help to build trust and understanding between the parties involved.

For instance, you can acknowledge the inconvenience caused by the traffic incident and agree to prioritize setting some ground rules for car usage moving forward.

By finding common ground, you can pave the way for more productive conversations in the future and increase the likelihood of reaching a resolution. Remember that resolving conflicts may take time, patience, and a willingness to work together.

12. In most conflicts, there’s usually no single person at fault.

Therefore, it’s important to look for a compromise that works for both parties involved. Instead of trying to prove who is more reasonable, strive to be the bigger person and seek a solution that satisfies everyone.

For instance, a compromise in a roommate conflict might involve alternating laundry room privileges on different days and times to avoid potential clashes in the future.

13. Consider whether you’re the right person to mediate a conflict.

While you may think you have the skills to be a great mediator (1), it’s crucial to ensure that you have an unbiased relationship with both parties involved. Depending on the type of conflict, there may be more appropriate mediators to turn to.

For example, when it comes to sibling disputes, family members are often the best mediators. Parents, older siblings, or close friends of the family can provide a neutral perspective and help resolve conflicts effectively.

In the workplace, conflict resolution can be more complex due to company policies and laws. In these situations, it’s best to seek out supervisors or human resources personnel who are trained to handle conflicts in a professional and impartial manner. Before taking on the role of a mediator, it’s important to check the company handbook to ensure you’re following the appropriate procedures.

14. Arrange a meeting between the conflicting parties.

Let them know that you are there to help them work through their differences and suggest a time and place for them to discuss the issue. If it is a workplace conflict, a supervisor can instruct them to have a meeting to resolve the conflict.

However, if it is a conflict between friends, it may be more challenging to get them together. You can approach each of them separately and express your willingness to help them communicate with each other.

If the situation is too sensitive, you may need to invite them to the same social gathering without disclosing the presence of the other person, but this can be a risky tactic.

15. Take charge of the situation.

You don’t have to dominate the entire conversation, as this could impede natural conflict resolution. However, you can take the initiative by saying a few words to get the conversation started.

It’s important to let them know that their conflict is noticeable and has the potential to be harmful. This realization may help them understand the gravity of their situation.

For instance, when dealing with children, you may need to explain the negative impact their conflict is having and remind them of the good times they shared.

When mediating a dispute between two close adult friends, you can be more casual and concise. Express that their conflict is causing discomfort and unease for those around them, and encourage them to start talking.

For workplace conflicts, you may be required to follow a script or cover specific points to comply with legal regulations or company policies. If not, inform them that their conflict is affecting their work performance and find a way to move forward in accordance with your organization’s guidelines.

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16. During the conflict resolution process, it is crucial to give each party an opportunity to express their concerns.

It’s essential to avoid interrupting them unless they become excessively angry or hostile. It is natural for emotions to run high since people often hold onto pent-up tension.

17. Maintain an open mind while mediating a conflict.

Avoid giving one party more time to speak or appear to favor one over the other, as this may escalate the situation.

It is essential to listen to both sides and understand their perspectives to generate a feasible solution that works for everyone. Regardless of who you think is right, it’s vital to hear both sides to reach a compromise.

18. Encourage discussion.

Once you have initiated the conversation, it is important to let both parties express their opinions and feelings openly (2). You should remain a neutral observer and avoid taking sides. Your role is to facilitate discussion, not to control it.

However, if the conversation becomes too intense or unproductive, it may be necessary to intervene and bring the discussion back on track. Remember, the purpose of the conversation is to allow both parties to express themselves and work towards a resolution.

19. Express a viewpoint if necessary.

Sometimes, one party may be obviously at fault. It can be unfair if you refuse to acknowledge their wrongdoing, which could cause resentment from the other party. However, this does not mean that both parties are not responsible for perpetuating the conflict. In some cases, it may be necessary to openly recognize that one party was more responsible for the conflict.

For instance, you may need to acknowledge that your friend was at fault for using his roommate’s car without permission.

  1. Once you have listened to both parties and allowed them to express their grievances, offer some potential compromises for resolving the conflict.

By offering options, you can help them become active participants in finding the best solution. It’s important to present the solutions as objective choices rather than your personal opinion.

However, in some cases, it may not be possible to come up with a straightforward solution. For instance, if one person’s partner left them for another person, it might not be easy to find a solution. Nevertheless, giving them a chance to share their emotions and thoughts could be beneficial for them.

20. Motivate them to end their conflict on a positive note.

Urge them to express that they are willing to move on from the issue and not hold grudges against each other. However, you must be mindful of their emotional state and not push them into hugging or apologizing if they are not comfortable with it yet.

It is best to avoid explicitly telling them to apologize, as it may not come across as genuine. By encouraging them to reconcile, they may naturally apologize and move forward.

Resolving conflicts effectively involves several important steps, including bringing the parties together to discuss their differences, allowing both parties to speak and listening with an open mind, offering compromises and solutions based on logical answers rather than personal opinions, and encouraging them to make up on a positive note without forcing apologies or physical contact.

It is also important to take a neutral stance and avoid alienating either party. Ultimately, the goal is to reach a resolution that is satisfactory for both parties and helps them move forward in a positive way.

I want to thank you for taking the time to read my article about how to manage conflict effectively. I sincerely hope its contents have been a good help to you.

Przemkas Mosky
Przemkas Mosky started Perfect 24 Hours in 2017. He is a Personal Productivity Specialist, blogger and entrepreneur. He also works as a coach assisting people to increase their motivation, social skills or leadership abilities. Read more here