Handling difficult situations in everyday life can be tough. But there are various skillful ways to handle conflict at work, and elsewhere.
Conflict is an inevitable part of daily life. But when conflict takes on an adversarial nature, with people assuming hard lines, sometimes tempers flare, and the conflict can turn ugly.
Keeping calm, remaining friendly, and using reason to tackle the issue at hand can help resolve the conflict to everyone's satisfaction. You may even find a way to achieve a "win-win" situation.
Keeping Your Cool
Whether you're dealing with a conflict at work or at home, the most valuable thing you can do is remain in control of your emotions. This can be incredibly difficult, particularly if you think the other person is being rude, thoughtless, or insensitive. But it is vital that you keep your cool and not meet anger with anger, if you hope to find a constructive resolution to the conflict.
Actions you can take when you feel like you're losing your cool include:
*Separate yourself from the situation. Step away to give yourself time to cool down.
*Learn to breathe. Take a deep breath, from your diaphragm, and slowly count to 10.
*Walk away. Take a long walk, and use the time to think things through and regain control of your emotions.
*Talk yourself down. Repeat some soothing phrases to yourself to help cool your simmering anger, such as "I need to stay calm," "I need to relax," or "Take it easy."
*Take a step back. Many conflicts are over little things that seem big. After gaining some perspective, you might find yourself less angry.
*Look beneath the surface. The real conflict may be something hidden beneath the outbursts and anger. Identifying the underlying problem can help you gain control of yourself and the situation.
*Use imagery. Picture yourself in a place where you would feel calm, peaceful, and relaxed.
*Stretch your muscles. Performing some stretching exercises can relieve stress and tension in your body, which can help reduce your anger.
Once you've calmed down, you can focus on handling conflict. Again, whether it's conflict at work or home, there are some key strategies that can help you find constructive resolution:
Have a discussion. Bring the people directly involved in the conflict together. It may be best to find a neutral place in a comfortable setting.
Be a good listener. Give each person a chance to describe how he sees the conflict, how he feels about it, and how he believes it should be resolved. Do not interrupt or interject while each person is taking his turn. Once each person is done speaking, ask questions if you need to better understand a point he made. Be respectful of everyone involved.
Summarize. After listening to everyone, identify the areas where everyone agrees. Focus on these areas of common interest first, as they will form the bedrock from which you will begin handling conflict.
Identify the source of the conflict. Make sure everyone comes to an agreement regarding what this conflict is really about. Be sure to validate each others' positions — try to understand where the other person is coming from, even if you don't agree with him.
Fashion a compromise. Get your heads together and figure out a solution that will solve the problem as equitably as possible. Remember that this is not a competition, and there should be no "winners" or "losers" once the conversation is done. If only one person walks away satisfied, the conflict is not resolved and will continue.
You may have to come back to the table a few more times, particularly if the conflict is over something that is difficult to resolve. But as long as you treat each other with respect and approach the situation with an open mind, you should be able to figure out a solution that everyone can agree with.