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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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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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