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ConflictResolutionSkills

ManagingandResolvingConflictinaPositiveWay
Conflictisanormal,andevenhealthy,partofrelationships.Afterall,twopeoplecantbe expectedtoagreeoneverythingatalltimes.Sincerelationshipconflictsareinevitable,learning todealwiththeminahealthywayiscrucial.Whenconflictismismanaged,itcanharmthe relationship.Butwhenhandledinarespectfulandpositiveway,conflictprovidesan opportunityforgrowth,ultimatelystrengtheningthebondbetweentwopeople.Bylearningthe skillsyouneedforsuccessfulconflictresolution,youcankeepyourpersonalandprofessional relationshipsstrongandgrowing.

Thefundamentalsofconflictresolution
Conflictarisesfromdifferences.Itoccurswheneverpeopledisagreeovertheirvalues, motivations,perceptions,ideas,ordesires.Sometimesthesedifferenceslooktrivial,butwhena conflicttriggersstrongfeelings,adeeppersonalandrelationalneedisatthecoreofthe problemaneedtofeelsafeandsecure,aneedtofeelrespectedandvalued,oraneedfor greaterclosenessandintimacy.

Recognizingandresolvingconflictingneeds
Ifyouareoutoftouchwithyourfeelingsorsostressedthatyoucanonlypayattentiontoa limitednumberofemotions,youwontbeabletounderstandyourownneeds.Ifyoudont understandyourdeepseatedneeds,youwillhaveahardtimecommunicatingwithothersand stayingintouchwithwhatisreallytroublingyou.Forexample,couplesoftenargueaboutpetty differencesthewayshehangsthetowels,thewayhepartshishairratherthanwhatisreally botheringthem. Inpersonalrelationships,alackofunderstandingaboutdifferingneedscanresultindistance, arguments,andbreakups.Inworkplaceconflicts,differingneedsareoftenattheheartofbitter disputes.Whenyoucanrecognizethelegitimacyofconflictingneedsandbecomewillingto examinetheminanenvironmentofcompassionateunderstanding,itopenspathwaystocreative problemsolving,teambuilding,andimprovedrelationships.Whenyouresolveconflictand disagreementquicklyandpainlessly,mutualtrustwillflourish.

Successfulconflictresolutiondependsonyourabilityto:
Managestresswhileremainingalertandcalm.Bystayingcalm,youcanaccuratelyread andinterpretverbalandnonverbalcommunication. Controlyouremotionsandbehavior.Whenyoureincontrolofyouremotions,youcan communicateyourneedswithoutthreatening,frightening,orpunishingothers. Payattentiontothefeelingsbeingexpressedaswellasthespokenwordsofothers. Beawareof andrespectfulofdifferences.Byavoidingdisrespectfulwordsandactions,

youcanresolvetheproblemfaster.

Healthyandunhealthywaysofmanagingandresolving conflict
Conflicttriggersstrongemotionsandcanleadtohurtfeelings,disappointment,anddiscomfort. Whenhandledinanunhealthymanner,itcancauseirreparablerifts,resentments,andbreak ups.Butwhenconflictisresolvedinahealthyway,itincreasesourunderstandingofone another,buildstrust,andstrengthensourrelationshipbonds.

Unhealthyresponsestoconflictarecharacterizedby:
Aninabilitytorecognizeandrespondtomattersofgreatimportancetotheotherperson Explosive,angry,hurtful,andresentfulreactions Thewithdrawaloflove,resultinginrejection,isolation,shaming,andfearof abandonment Theexpectationofbadoutcomes Thefearandavoidanceofconflict

Healthyresponsestoconflictarecharacterizedby:

Thecapacitytorecognizeandrespondtoimportantmatters Areadinesstoforgiveandforget Theabilitytoseekcompromiseandavoidpunishing Abeliefthatresolutioncansupporttheinterestsandneedsofbothparties

Fourkeyconflictresolutionskills
Theabilitytosuccessfullymanageandresolveconflictdependsonfourkeyskills.Together, thesefourskillsformafifthskillthatisgreaterthanthesumofitsparts:theabilitytotake conflictinstrideandresolvedifferencesinwaysthatbuildtrustandconfidence.

Conflictresolutionskill1:Quicklyrelievestress
Thecapacitytoremain relaxedandfocusedintensesituationsisavitalaspectofconflict resolution.Ifyoudontknowhowtostaycenteredandincontrolofyourself,youmaybecome emotionallyoverwhelmedinchallengingsituations.Thebestwaytorapidlyandreliablyrelieve stressisthroughthesenses:sight,sound,touch,taste,andsmell.Buteachpersonresponds differentlytosensoryinput,soyouneedtofindthingsthataresoothingtoyou.

Conflictresolutionskill2:Recognizeandmanageyouremotions.
Emotional awarenessisthekeytounderstandingyourselfandothers.Ifyoudontknowhow youfeelorwhyyoufeelthatway,youwontbeabletocommunicateeffectivelyorsmoothover disagreements.Althoughknowingyourownfeelingsmayseemsimple,manypeopleignoreor trytosedatestrongemotionslikeanger,sadness,andfear.Butyourabilitytohandleconflict dependsonbeingconnectedtothesefeelings.Ifyoureafraidofstrongemotionsorifyouinsist onfindingsolutionsthatarestrictlyrational,yourabilitytofaceandresolvedifferenceswillbe

impaired.

Conflictresolutionskill3:Improveyournonverbalcommunicationskills
Themostimportantinformationexchangedduringconflictsandargumentsisoften communicatednonverbally.Nonverbalcommunicationincludeseyecontact,facialexpression, toneofvoice,posture,touch,andgestures.Whenyoureinthemiddleofaconflict,paying closeattentiontotheotherpersonsnonverbalsignalsmayhelpyoufigureoutwhattheother personisreally saying,respondinawaythatbuildstrust,andgettotherootoftheproblem. Simplynonverbalsignalssuchasacalmtoneofvoice,areassuringtouch,oraconcernedfacial expressioncangoalongwaytowarddefusingaheatedexchange.

Conflictresolutionskill4:Usehumorandplaytodealwithchallenges
Youcanavoidmanyconfrontationsandresolveargumentsanddisagreementsby communicatinginaplayfulorhumorousway.Humorcanhelpyousaythingsthatmight otherwisebedifficulttoexpresswithoutcreatingaflap.However,itsimportantthatyoulaugh withtheotherperson,notat them.Whenhumorandplayareusedtoreducetensionandanger, reframeproblems,andputthesituationintoperspective,theconflictcanactuallybecomean opportunityforgreaterconnectionandintimacy.

Tipsformanagingandresolvingconflict
Managingandresolvingconflictrequiresemotionalmaturity,selfcontrol,andempathy.Itcan betricky,frustrating,andevenfrightening.Youcanensurethattheprocessisaspositiveas possiblebystickingtothefollowingconflictresolutionguidelines:

Maketherelationshipyourpriority.Maintainingandstrengtheningtherelationship, ratherthanwinningtheargument,shouldalwaysbeyourfirstpriority.Berespectfulofthe otherpersonandhisorherviewpoint. Focusonthepresent.Ifyoureholdingontooldhurtsandresentments,yourabilitytosee therealityofthecurrentsituationwillbeimpaired.Ratherthanlookingtothepastand assigningblame,focusonwhatyoucandointhehereandnowtosolvetheproblem. Pickyourbattles.Conflictscanbedraining,soitsimportanttoconsiderwhethertheissue isreallyworthyofyourtimeandenergy.Maybeyoudon'twanttosurrenderaparkingspace ifyouvebeencirclingfor15minutes.Butiftherearedozensofspots,arguingoverasingle spaceisntworthit. Bewillingtoforgive.Resolvingconflictisimpossibleifyoureunwillingorunableto forgive.Resolutionliesinreleasingtheurgetopunish,whichcannevercompensateforour lossesandonlyaddstoourinjurybyfurtherdepletinganddrainingourlives. Knowwhentoletsomethinggo.Ifyoucantcometoanagreement,agreetodisagree.It takestwopeopletokeepanargumentgoing.Ifaconflictisgoingnowhere,youcanchoose todisengageandmoveon.

Fairfighting:Groundrules
Remaincalm.Trynottooverreacttodifficultsituations.Byremainingcalmitwillbemore likelythatotherswillconsideryourviewpoint. Expressfeelingsinwords,notactions. Tellingsomeonedirectlyandhonestlyhowyoufeel

canbeaverypowerfulformofcommunication.Ifyoustarttofeelsoangryorupsetthatyou feelyoumaylosecontrol,takea"timeout"anddosomethingtohelpyourselffeelsteadier. Bespecificaboutwhatisbotheringyou. Vaguecomplaintsarehardtoworkon. Dealwithonlyoneissueatatime.Don'tintroduceothertopicsuntileachisfullydiscussed. Thisavoidsthe"kitchensink"effectwherepeoplethrowinalltheircomplaintswhilenot allowinganythingtoberesolved. No"hittingbelowthebelt." Attackingareasofpersonalsensitivitycreatesanatmosphereof distrust,anger,andvulnerability. Avoidaccusations.Accusationswillcauseotherstodefendthemselves.Instead,talkabouthow someone'sactionsmadeyoufeel Don'tgeneralize.Avoidwordslike"never"or"always."Suchgeneralizationsareusually inaccurateandwillheightentensions. Avoid"makebelieve."Exaggeratingorinventingacomplaintoryourfeelingsaboutitwill preventtherealissuesfromsurfacing.Stickwiththefactsandyourhonestfeelings. Don'tstockpile.Storinguplotsofgrievancesandhurtfeelingsovertimeiscounterproductive. It'salmostimpossibletodealwithnumerousoldproblemsforwhichinterpretationsmaydiffer. Trytodealwithproblemsastheyarise. Avoidclammingup. Whenonepersonbecomessilentandstopsrespondingtotheother, frustrationandangercanresult.Positiveresultscanonlybeattainedwithtwoway communication. Source:TheCounseling&MentalHealthCenteratTheUniversityofTexasatAustin

Managingandresolvingconflictbylearninghowtolisten
Whenpeopleareupset,thewordstheyuserarelyconveytheissuesandneedsattheheartofthe problem.Whenwelistenforwhatisfeltaswellassaid,weconnectmoredeeplytoourown needsandemotions,andtothoseofotherpeople.Listeninginthiswayalsostrengthensus, informsus,andmakesiteasierforotherstohearus.

Tipsforbeingabetterlistener:
Listentothereasonstheotherpersongivesforbeingupset. Makesureyouunderstandwhattheotherpersonistellingyoufromhisorherpointof view. Repeattheotherpersonswords,andaskifyouhaveunderstoodcorrectly. Askifanythingremainsunspoken,givingthepersontimetothinkbeforeanswering. Resistthetemptationtointerjectyourownpointofviewuntiltheotherperson hassaid everythingheorshewantstosayandfeelsthatyouhavelistenedtoandunderstoodhisor hermessage.

Whenlisteningtotheotherperson'spointofview,thefollowingresponsesare oftenhelpful:
Encouragetheotherpersontosharehisorherissuesasfullyaspossible.

"Iwanttounderstandwhathasupsetyou." "Iwanttoknowwhatyouarereallyhopingfor."

Clarifytherealissues,ratherthanmakingassumptions.Askquestionsthatallowyoutogain thisinformation,andwhichlettheotherpersonknowyouaretryingtounderstand.

"Canyousaymoreaboutthat?" "Isthatthewayitusuallyhappens?"

Restatewhatyouhaveheard,soyouarebothabletoseewhathasbeenunderstoodsofarit maybethattheotherpersonwillthenrealizethatadditionalinformationisneeded.

"Itsoundslikeyouweren'texpectingthattohappen."

Reflectfeelingsbeasclearaspossible.

"Icanimaginehowupsettingthatmusthavebeen."

Validatetheconcernsoftheotherperson,evenifasolutioniselusiveatthistime.Expressing appreciationcanbeaverypowerfulmessageifitisconveyedwithintegrityandrespect.

"Ireallyappreciatethatwearetalkingaboutthisissue." "Iamgladwearetryingtofigurethisout."

Source:UniversityofWisconsin,Madison

Conflictresolutionisoneofthefivekeyskillsofemotional intelligence
TheFiveSkillsofEmotionalIntelligence
Skill1:QuickStressRelief Skill2:EmotionalAwareness Skill3:NonverbalCommunication Skill4:PlayfulCommunication Skill5:ConflictResolution Theabilitytoresolveconflictspositivelyandwithconfidenceisthefifthoffiveessential emotionalintelligenceskills.Together,thefiveskillsofemotionalintelligencehelpyoubuild strongrelationships,overcomechallenges,andsucceedatworkandinlife.

Raisingemotionalintelligence:Afree,onlinetrainingcourse
Tostartpracticingthefiveskillsofemotionalintelligence,visitEQCentral,awebsitefromthe creatorsofHelpguide. EQCentraloffersastepbystep,selfpacedemotionalintelligence trainingcoursefilledwithrealworldexamplesandhandsonexercises.

Relatedlinksforconflictresolution skills
Generalinformationaboutconflictresolution
FightingFairToResolveConflictCoversthecausesofconflict,differentconflictstyles,and fairfightingguidelinestohelpyoupositivelyresolvedisagreements.(UniversityofTexasat Austin) ConflictResolution Comprehensiveresourceonhowtomanageandresolveconflict.Includes AboutConflictand8StepsforConflictResolution.(UniversityofWisconsin,Madison) CRKit12stepconflictresolutiontrainingkit.Learnhowtopursueawinwinapproach, manageemotions,beappropriatelyassertive,maptheconflict,anddevelopoptions. (The ConflictResolutionNetwork) ConflictResolution:ResolvingConflictRationallyandEffectively Guidetoconflictinthe workplaceanddifferentconflictstyles.Includesa5stepprocessforsuccessfulconflict resolution.(MindTools)

Tipsformanagingandresolvingconflict
ResolvingConflictConstructivelyandRespectfully Tipsonhowtomanageandresolve conflictinapositive,respectful,andmutuallybeneficialway.(OhioStateUniversity Extension) HowtoResolveConflictAdviceonresolvingdifferencesandmanagingconflictbetween individuals,smallgroups,andorganizations.(RogerDarlington) EffectiveCommunication Articleontheartoflisteninginconflictresolution.Includestipson howtomakeyourpointeffectivelyandnegotiateconflictinprincipled,positiveway. (UniversityofMaryland) JeanneSegal,Ph.D.,MelindaSmith,M.A.,andJaellineJaffe,Ph.D.,contributedtothis article.Lastmodified:September2009.

Reprintedwithpermissionforpersonalornonprofituse.Visitwww.helpguide.org toseethearticle withlinkstorelatedarticles. Helpguide.org.Allrightsreserved. Thismaterialisforinformationandsupportnotasubstituteforprofessionaladvice.