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Tips for effective conflict resolution

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Conflict is impossible to avoid and is not always a bad thing. From the innocuous water cooler arguments around whose football team is the best or where we should go for Friday night drinks, humans deal with dozens of conflicts daily and almost all are resolved peacefully.

So what makes for effective conflict resolution? The key features of peaceful conflict resolution are respect and compromise. Respect of another person’s needs and point of view and compromise as in the ability to make concessions in order to gain a peaceful resolution.

An expert conflict resolver is never emotionally invested in the conflict they are attempting to resolve. The conflict resolver should not express an opinion about which party is in the right or in the wrong. Conflict resolution is not a court where anyone needs to be found guilty or innocent.

Instead, the person resolving the conflict should focus on helping the conflicted parties come to an agreed resolution. Their job is to ensure the resolution is based on mutual agreement and hasn’t been achieved through the bullying tactics by one party over the other.

It can be useful to draw upon a workplace’s policies and procedures when resolving conflict because these workplace documents provide a non-bias, factual framework to discuss an issue.  

Here are three top tips for effective conflict resolution.

  1. Keep calm and carry on

Not rising to the bait of conflict can often prevent a situation from escalating. Deep breathing and focusing your attention on something else can be enough to let the conflict pass.

     2.  Listen and acknowledge what you have heard

People often just want to be heard. A little empathy can go along way in when someone is feeling unfairly treated or upset. Repeating what the speaker has said helps the listener to better understand their own feelings.

     3.  Strive for balance in the process

Fairness and compromise are essential to ensure all involved can move on from a negative situation. This is particularly important in a workplace environment where teamwork is part of every day. Be fair and treat everyone with compassion.

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