Why does it seem that some people deal with conflict more easily than others? Does it seem to you that there are some people that appear to thrive in high-stress situations? For some folks, it’s very hard to assess and manage conflict, while for others, it seems to come naturally. Learning how to identify sources of conflict and managing expectations requires a lot of patience and is hard work. If you can learn how to identify sources of conflict, recognize the early warning signs of destructive conflict, identify how to deconstruct your thought process, it can help you toward developing positive outcomes during stressful situations. Here are just a few tips on how to get a better handle on managing your conflicts and relationship management more constructively.
Managing conflict may mean you need to learn to manage your expectation of others better. If you repeatedly have the same outcome from an individual you are in conflict with, it may be time to tweak your thought process a little in a way that will help resolve situations and keep your feelings in check. I’m not suggesting that you conform to the person you are in conflict with but, stop thinking you can change people. You can’t. However, you can change certain behaviors. Start changing your behavior first, then you will be able to find other ways that may be leading indicators of others’ behaviors. This may help you to realize ways in which you can help to manage to a more favorable outcome.
Observe others who you feel are successful at handling stressful situations, those who seem to have those positive outcomes you desire. What behaviors do they exhibit that you can emulate? Don’t reinvent the wheel; take something that you see worked for someone else, then adapt it a little and try to make that type of behavior work even better for you.
It also helps to learn what your “hot buttons” are. If you know what negatively escalates your mood, you are already one step ahead of the game and can manage your internal response to others’ behaviors. This will help you facilitate discussions that are open, constructive and less emotional. Sometimes when you take the emotional factors out of the equation, this allows you to process your thoughts in a logical manner and helps to yield a more positive outcome.
Start employing a certain level of empathy toward others, even if or when they’ve pushed your hot buttons. Again, it’ll help you think in a more logical sequence thus, providing you with a clear pathway to resolving your conflict. This takes a lot of practice but, it does work. Try it. You’ll see.
Now, ask yourself how important it is to be right in all situations. Sometimes making simple concessions help diffuse situations quickly and move you a huge step forward in working constructively to resolve conflict. If you are the type that likes to be right all the time, set a personal goal for yourself to be right less of the time. That means something different for everyone however, it’s part of modifying your behavior in a way that others may take notice. Their perceptions of you may change to a certain degree and situations could end up more favorably than you thought they would.
Do you have a positive attitude? Sure you do. Everyone thinks they do. Here’s where you need to take a true self-assessment on it. Make the assumption that you could do some work and retooling on your positive attitude and thought process. Yes, thinking positively will help. While others dwell on negativity, continue with a positive outlook. Continue this positive outlook even in the face of your worst adversity. No one who is truly working toward conflict resolution and relationship management appreciates a negative attitude.
So, in the grand scheme of things, how important is the issue you are working through? Sometimes situations that occur are part of a much bigger process or outcome. Try talking your situation through with the other person and actually trying to see things from his or her perspective. This is one of the hardest things to do but, once you hone that skill, you begin to see things that others don’t. This may prove instrumental to you in problem solving and conflict resolution.
What’s your tolerance level and actual acceptance of others? Not everyone will act or think like you do. People come from diverse backgrounds and will have other perspectives to offer that may differ from your opinions. Take the time to actually appreciate this diversity and let their perspective “marinate” in your thoughts before you act or over-react. Doing this will keep your emotions in check and allow for processing thoughts using a variety of ways, all working toward a more favorable outcome.
Of course you already know to maintain professionalism. But keep a calm tone in your voice. Don’t escalate it if someone else begins to escalate theirs. As a matter of fact, when someone begins to raise his or her voice, bring yours down an octave. Also remember, no one appreciates sarcasm, so keep that out of the equation all together.
Last but not least, I’ve found that simply openly and honestly communicating with the person (in a non-threatening manner) always works the best. Try approaching the person you are having a conflict with in a very sincere manner, talk through your points, take the time to listen to his or her points, then offer a compromise somewhere in the middle. Of course, there will be times where it may come down to saying to that other person “Let’s just agree to disagree,” but at least you’ve agreed to something.