Conflict can sometimes be unavoidable. If you’re like me, you dislike it, and avoid it. But what if I told you that might only be making the conflict worse? Here I’ll outline 3 simple ways to manage any kind of conflict in your life, and I give an example on how I’ve used them.
Managing conflict requires emotional intelligence, a key trait in many successful leaders.
It’s one of the things that leadership and professional coaches focus on with their clients. Part of that emotional intelligence factor is tuning in to how and why you’re behaving a certain way.
With that insight, you should approach conflict with these objectives in mind:
Managing the Relationship
Managing the relationship simply means taking on the responsibility and ownership of your half of the relationship. If you’ve been avoiding this person, take it upon yourself to reach out, or at least begin the work to become comfortable with that idea.
It takes two to make any kind of relationship work well, and if you’re seeking to eliminate a conflict, you must step up to the plate to begin that process.
Dealing with the Conflict
This part is really just about plunging into the conflict. Think about the conflict itself and make notes about how you feel. What has caused problems for you? When was the line crossed?
Distilling this kind of information allows you to have a logical conversation in the step, rather than an emotional one. Be sure to also recognize your own shortcomings in this stage, and be prepared to take responsibility and apologize should you need to.
Having the Conversation
Now that you’ve taken the previous steps, it’s time to talk. Have a conversation with the person involved, and allow them to speak their position as well.
Most conflicts are simple misunderstandings, so creating a space for clear communication is key.
How I Use This Strategy
This is a real story about how I’ve used these points in my life. I realized that I was putting off a difficult conversation with a person I have known for years. I was reluctant to bring it up to them, and honestly, I was just hoping that problem would go away on its own.
What wound up happening is that I built up the conversation– and the conflict– in my head. It was this huge deal, and the idea of tackling the conflict was almost too much to deal with.
I finally just took it upon myself to sit down and manage the relationship. I realized that I, as 50% of this relationship, had to deal with it. I decided here that a conversation was needed, but I wanted to figure out exactly how to approach it.
I spent some time journaling and dealing with the conflict. I got my thoughts together and finally asked to have the conversation. The mole hill was getting smaller, but I was still anxious about the conversation and their reaction to the whole thing.
Well, we had the conversation and I can’t overstate how much easier the conversation went in reality, rather than in my head. Fortunately this person is a real leader, and we had a very healing and constructive conversation that strengthened our relationship.
It just took a little work to get the ball rolling, and now that it’s over, we’re in a much better spot and I feel great.
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