At some point when working with others, conflict arises. What do you do? Avoid it, jump in thoughtfully or jump in reactively?
To start, we must identify the real nature of the conflict. This is not always easy. Whether solving a problem or working toward a specific outcome, when there is a conflict that needs managing it is because of variations of perspectives and desired outcomes.
These tips can help you achieve an effective, mutual outcome.
- Be clear about your intention. Are you in it to win or to discover a win-win for all?
- Identify the issue or problem. In most conflicts, not all parties will see the issue from the same perspective.
- Separate the people involved from the problem. Personalities, history, emotional projection, and biases about others and circumstances often get in the way of staying focused on the issue.
- Invite perspectives with an open mind and empathy. Realizing that someone else’s experiences and/or fears play into the situation.
- Identify your own fears and concern. Is there data to back them up, or are they based on opinion instead of facts?
- What specific facts need to be addressed? Here is another opportunity to gather others’ perspectives.
- Come to a consensus. What is the ultimate goal that all parties want to achieve?
- Brainstorm actions. Think about the next steps to achieve the mutual goal.
- Explore the impact of any actions on the individuals and the organization (or family or community if utilizing the process on a personal basis).
- Identify what resources you have to achieve the goals and what resources will be needed.
- Set out tasks for parties to own and be accountable for.
- Have regular check-ins and discussions in the process, honoring the steps all have taken.
Handling conflict gives us an opportunity to recognize judgment and assumptions and suspend them. It allows us to step in with positive intention rather than avoidance or reactive emotion. It provides the groundwork to be the best we can be and assist others in being their best.