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7 Sure-Fire Tips for Conflict Resolution

7 Sure-Fire Tips for Conflict Resolution

We live in a world that’s filled with conflict. When you’re a kid, conflict resolution is easy. All you have to do is scream loudly enough for an adult to intervene and end it. Resolving conflict as an adult gets a bit more difficult. It’s not that it’s complicated. It just takes patience and perseverance. Here are 7 surefire tips for conflict resolution:

1. Keep A Cool Head – The first thing you need to understand about conflict is that it can escalate very quickly when emotions get involved. Some people aren’t able to verbalize their thoughts and may get frustrated, which can lead to violence. Before taking on any conflict, stop and breathe for a moment. Keep calm, gather your thoughts, and make sure you keep the conflict civil.

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2.  Decide What Outcome You Want – Before you can resolve a conflict, you have to decide what you want to accomplish. Are you trying to change someone’s mind about a personal belief? Are you defending yourself or a loved one? What’s more important: the issue or the person? If you can’t answer these questions, then why are you involving yourself in the conflict? Maybe the best thing to do is drop it. If you feel the conflict is worth pursuing, continue reading.

3.  Be Willing To Compromise – It doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong. If both parties didn’t believe they were right, there wouldn’t be a conflict in the first place. Sometimes people argue with you just for the sake of argument. Understand that you can’t win every battle. You’re going to have to give up a little in order to achieve resolution. Conflicts don’t have to have a loser. Decide what’s most important to you, swallow your pride, and give up the rest so that everyone has a chance to win.

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4.  Listen… Actually Listen – How can you find the middle if you don’t know where both ends are? The only way you can meet in the middle is by understanding both sides of the argument. If you’re unwilling to listen to the other person’s side, they’ll be unwilling to listen to yours. By actually listening, you’ll be able to relate to the other side. You may think you already know their side, but may not know the full story. Even if you do, it’s much easier to hold someone’s hand and walk alongside them to your side of the issue rather than telling them what they should do. If you want to lead, do it by example.

5.  Avoid Personal Attacks – Never insult the other person. People tend not to agree with someone who insults them. Avoid belittling, sarcasm, sighs, and eye rolls. Think of yourself as a politician trying to win votes. Do you vote for people who insult your intelligence or attack you personally? If you want to stand a chance of converting someone to your side, they need to respect you. Respect is something that’s earned, and you don’t earn it with personal attacks.

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6.  Detach Yourself From The Result – No matter how well you argue your case, there’s always a chance that you won’t get the result you want. It may be necessary to cut your losses and walk away. A good way to end a conflict without either side admitting a loss is to agree to disagree. This means you’re both willing to live with the fact that you have differing opinions. It doesn’t mean that you should harbor resentment over the issue and continue pursuing it later.

7.  Once It’s Over, Drop It – Just like everything else in life, it’s important not to take conflicts too seriously. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Think about it – will this conflict stop the sun from rising? Are you willing to let someone ruin your appetite? Life goes on, and there’s no point in dwelling. Once the conflict is in the past, leave it there.

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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