This may be the shortest blog you have ever read. Tips to avoid conflict – you can’t.
You may be successful for years in avoiding conflict, but sooner or later conflict will find you! Conflict is something you simply cannot avoid, but you can manage it and you can resolve conflict, and these are topics on which I can give you some tips.
1. Build a solid, healthy relationship using the principles we teach in The Mandt System®. Treat people with respect, honor, dignity, justice, fairness, and kindness. It’s easier to resolve conflict when there is trust between the people involved. It will take courage to do this, and you will have to be faithful (practice fidelity) to your values and beliefs.
2. Practice forgiveness, and ask others to forgive you when you make a mistake.
3. Because conflict occurs in all the phases of the Crisis Cycle except what we call Baseline, your emotions will be engaged. Manage yourself first!
4. Address conflict as early as possible. Don’t wait until you have enough “ammunition” to talk with someone. If you do, you will probably not resolve the conflict but make it worse. Our goal is to build the relationship and resolve the conflict.
5. In all situations, we teach, our motivation should be to protect and teach, never punish. In conflict situations, it is easy to fall into the temptation of punishing the person or people with whom you have a conflict. When we protect and teach, we build people up instead of tearing them down.
6. Check your own perceptions. You may perceive a situation to be one of conflict, and you can also misinterpret, misperceive, or miscommunicate. Ask the other person what they think this conflict is about after you have explained what you think the conflict is about.
7. Listen actively and respectively to the person or people as they talk. Let them finish, and wait a few seconds as you process what they said.
8. Respond, don’t react, to statements people might make during conflict. Center yourself on your values and beliefs, pausing to collect your thoughts and feelings before you say something you might regret later.
9. Conflict is not about one person winning and the others losing, it is about finding ways for everyone to “win” – to get their needs met. A famous poet/philosopher once said “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.” In conflict situations, you want to share your needs, and find out what others need. Not what you want, but what you need.
10. It doesn’t matter what people do to you, what matters is how you respond.
We use a statement from Haim Ginnot in our workshops that says , in part, “In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis [conflict] will be escalated or de-escalated, and a child [person] humanized or de-humanized” How you respond when someone confronts you will be the deciding factor in whether or not the conflict is resolve, how long it will take, and if feelings between people have been enhanced or destroyed.
In the Mandt System® approach to conflict, we really emphasize that our goal is to resolve conflicts in a way that builds the relationship, or at the very least, maintains the relationship. This is hard work! It is also scary work, because most of us avoid conflict as managers and supervisors. You can’t avoid it, so don’t even try. Instead, approach conflict as another opportunity to build a healthy relationship, to build someone up instead of tearing them down.