Conflict resolution is probably one of the most important yet avoided subjects to tackle, whether it be in business or in your personal relationships. Knowing how to negotiate and resolve matters in which one or more people disagree is a very valuable skill to master. Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. If possible, talk to the person or persons with whom you are having a conflict with in person.
2. Be mindful of body language (yours and the person or persons you are engaging). Crossed arms symbolizes defensiveness. Avoid sighing, rolling your eyes and raising your voice. If things get intense, take a deep breath. If things start to get testy, take a break and walk away.
3. If talking in person is not possible due to distance, for example, have the conversation over the phone.
4. Many people choose to avoid talking altogether out of fear and send an email expressing their thoughts and feelings. If you do decide to go this route, remember…
- Start out on a positive note. Thank the person for their time, effort, etc.
- Do not “point the finger of blame” or make accusations. It’s better to write “I feel that….” This puts the burden on you and is less likely to anger the person or persons you are trying to persuade to see things your way.
- Do not, I repeat, do not use ALL CAPS in an email. Using ALL CAPS is the equivalent of YELLING at someone. You will lose your argument the moment you hit the Caps Lock key.
- Before clicking the “Send” button, read your email. Reread it. Ensure nothing you have written can be taken out of context or might further escalate the conflict. When you are upset, it is easy to write what you’re thinking, which can come by to haunt you.
5. Compromise. Work hard to make the situation a “win-win.”
6. Do not engage in gossip. Talking behind someone’s back shows a lack of maturity and when, not if, the person you are trying to resolve a conflict with finds out you’ve been gossiping, it will further inflame the situation, and you will lose trust.
7. If all else fails, obtain a mediator. This is someone who is impartial, a good listener and can help to resolve the conflict by making suggestions.
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