Whether in the work place or at home, we all have them, face them, suffer from them, manage them one way or another; conflicts. They may be arguments, consequences of our actions or consequences of other’s actions, but how we choose to move forward when they occur is of substantial impact.
I first wrote “of great impact” but thought often results of how we handle conflicts are not so “great.”
While there may be some inevitable consequences of a conflict, our response to the situation and other people involved can go a long way to making the best of it and often produce some net positive outcomes for our relationships.
Here I look to offer some quick tips on navigating the aftermath of conflict when you find yourself in the middle of one.
Simply put, you should:
- Become Objective
- Find Common Ground and Seek Understanding
- Resolve the Conflict and Let’s Move On
But, lets dive in to more detail.
1. Become Objective
We are pre-disposed to our own perspectives on things – meaning we are biased by ourselves. It is important to have a balanced and neutral view of what has happened where conflict is acting upon our relationships. You are not likely to find agreeable remedies for the ills of the situation if the cold hard facts are dusted over.
Easier said than done I know. Find at least one and probably two objective advisors to help you work out your objectivity. Don’t go to people who you know agree with you or who always avoid confrontation as you’re wasting time and not likely to become objective as a result. Do talk to people of high character and who are willing to speak with you honestly.
Write down on paper the activities, actions, events that make up the conflict. Just the facts of what happened without anyone’s opinion tainting the story. Read the story as it happened making sure to purge your bias or opinion and just consider the simple facts.
2. Find Common Ground and Seek Understanding
Where emotional damage has occurred, it’s good to begin repair as soon as practical. Seeking common ground and understanding can seem complicated and sometimes it is. But it is also often much less difficult than we make it where our emotions are in charge. Where you have become objective, you can more readily see reasonable common ground and understanding to begin down the road of mutual agreement.
To the extent that it depends upon you, seek to understand the other party’s position. Honor my favorite cliché; “there’s two sides to every story and the truth is always in the middle.” With an objective, fact-based perspective of events and sincere consideration of the other person’s position, I often see potential compromise more clearly.
Make a list of things where you and the other party are not conflicted; common ground. Avoid the temptation as it arises to list all the things you don’t agree upon! Erase those. Then get back to listing the areas where you are in agreement or at least can be in agreement.
Develop empathy for why the other party may feel the way they do. Empathy does not have to mean you agree with the other party or conceding how you feel as wrong but simply that you understand how or why they may feel the way they do.
Make a list of solutions that bring yourself and the other party together on whatever caused the conflict. Note that this usually requires that you compromise on something. If you find that you can never afford to compromise due to the importance of your position, recognize that you might be the problem and consider going back to number “1)” above.
3. Resolve the Conflict and Let’s Move On
Put your mind to resolving the conflict, including your willingness to compromise where possible. You have solutions you are willing to work on and you need to be prepared for differing ideas from the other party. If you both have ideas and can work some compromise into a conversation to share the ideas, you are very close to resolving any conflict.
This whole approach is predicated upon the fact that you can not control other people. You control you. We each must work to the extent that it depends upon us and invite others to work with us for common solutions.
Invite the other party to an open conversation where you offer your solutions for their consideration and be prepared to receive their ideas in return.
If the other party is not willing to work in good faith, so be it. You must work in consideration of others to the extent it depends upon you.
Your solutions and offer of compromise should remain an open invitation as this demonstrates to the other party that you’re sincere and not just trying to negotiate a win for your position. This is not a trick to get them to compromise off of their position but a sincere approach to find common ground and resolve understandable differences.
With that standing offer, you can move on.