The management of Conflict

Conflict Management Skills

Conflict is a kind of dynamic in interpersonal relationships that are characteristic to all social situations.   These conflicts can prove either beneficial or harmful depending upon the way they are handled by the individuals.   The individual handling the conflict plays a very important role in determining if it is going to be problematical or manageable.   There are certain skills which when mastered, can make the difference in whether one is able to handle conflict effectively.

Referring to a book “Conflict Management for Dummies” by Kevin Eikenberry and Susan Nightingale, The basic principle of conflict management is to use effective communication skills so that you can come up with a solution or take action without being angry.     Conflict can be a challenge so it is good to know how you can handle yourself in the heat of a disagreement or a conflict.

The book suggests that there are certain steps which will help you become an effective problem solver and this includes changing your thinking, being calm and respectful, getting commitment from all involved parties, listening carefully without judging and finding win-win solutions.

Key Points:

Conflict management is the process through which an individual or a group tries to handle any kind of opposition or disagreement in their interpersonal relationships.  It is the way through which they control, cope with and resolve issues that are commonly found in any relationship.  Conflicts can be handled by using different communication skills in an effective way so that they can be beneficial for all involved parties.  It is the process of resolving issues in both negative and positive ways.

Effective conflict management helps to reduce any kind of tension or discomfort in relationships, increase the level of satisfaction among the individuals, strengthen their communication skills and avoid future conflicts by identifying the cause and keeping a track on it.

It is a way through which one can manage, resolve and cope with any kind of opposition or disagreement in their interpersonal relationships.  Conflicts can arise for many different reasons such as difference of opinion, personal values or habits, lack of communication or understanding etc. There are several skills that an individual can use and master in order to handle conflicts effectively.

Psychological Skills:

These skills depend upon the psychological state of an individual and include self-awareness, self-knowledge, self-control, concentration etc. In order to manage any kind of conflict effectively, it is important that one can be able to stay calm even when others are reacting in a negative way.  This can be achieved by practicing exercises that help to improve concentration, increase self-knowledge and gain self-control.

Communication Skills:

The most important tool for conflict management is communication skills.  It is important to clarify the meaning of what others are saying so that you can understand their perspective better.  You should never interrupt while the other person is speaking and also try to listen carefully so you can avoid misunderstandings.

Below are some ways through which effective communication skills can be used in order to resolve conflicts:

1) Use “I Messages” when describing your feelings or concerns about specific behavior, words or actions that have made you feel upset or offended.  This will help to express your feelings in a non-threatening way which will also allow others to see your perspective.

2) When you are trying to resolve the conflict, try putting yourself in the other person’s shoes so that they can understand why you are behaving in a particular manner.  During this process, avoid the use of “you” as it can make others defensive.

3) It is important to work on your body language so that others can understand what you are trying to say without being judgmental.  For example, if you want a person to stop talking then try crossing your arms and maintain eye contact which will highlight your seriousness.

4) If you are unable to find a solution for the conflict then it is better to postpone the discussion until both of you can meet with a third party who can ask objective questions and identify possible solutions.  This will allow others to understand what has happened from their perspective as well so they can think about how best to resolve it.

5) Practice active listening in order to demonstrate your interest in the topic.  This means that you should not think about what you will talk about when they are finished or how you will resolve the conflict while the other person is speaking.  You should listen carefully and ask open-ended questions so that he/she can clarify their feelings.

6) Use “I Hear you Statements” during problem-solving so that they know you have understood their perspective correctly and allow them to express their feelings without being interrupted.  This will help them to listen more carefully while you are offering your own suggestions so it will be easier to identify a mutually beneficial solution.

Positive Skills:

Positive skills include the ability to manage your own behavior and emotions so you can prevent conflicts from escalating.  This is done by thinking about how you would like to see yourself as a person as well as identifying your strengths and weaknesses. In addition, positive skills also consist of the ability to cooperate with others in order to find a solution that will satisfy the greatest number of people in a given situation.  This is done by breaking down a goal into smaller steps that must be reached in order to achieve success and then working with others to find solutions for each step so you can achieve your final goal.

How to improve conflict management strategies:

1.Check yourself before you wreck yourself: if you spout off without thinking, or speak from a place of anger rather than logic, it’s unlikely that your conflict management strategy is going to be effective

2.Know your strengths and weaknesses: know what works for you and make a conscious effort to use those methods in your conflicts

3.Avoid using “you” statements when speaking to another person: this will help the other party to remain calm, and keep your anger and frustration from surfacing

4.Don’t assume you know where the other person is coming from: approach every conflict with an open mind, ready to listen and understand before deciding how to respond

5.Break down your goal into smaller steps: this will help you to stay focused and attain success

6.Work with others: there’s strength in numbers! It’s equally important to get the input of people on your team so that everyone can work together towards a solution

7.Be patient: effective conflict management takes time, so don’t expect it to happen overnight!

8.Don’t get stuck in a pattern: if you find yourself resorting to the same conflict management technique time and again, it’s time to mix things up in order to keep your strategy fresh!

9.Play devil’s advocate: when presented with an opposing point of view, don’t be afraid to consider it

10.Know when to let it go: if the conflict isn’t worth your time or energy, walk away. You can always revisit it at a later date if necessary

11.Don’t be afraid of conflict itself: conflict is not inherently bad! It’s all about how you handle it! If handled correctly, conflicts have the potential to make you and your team stronger.

Personal conflict management steps:

1. Consider what the conflict is about, what are the facts?

2. Think about how it makes you feel? What are your emotions?

3. Identify who is involved in the conflict and establish a relationship with them if none exists already?

4. Where does this conflict take place or happen, where are the boundaries of this conflict?

5. What are you trying to achieve or change in the situation?

6. Decide on a possible solution that would benefit everyone involved, try to work with others to reach this goal.

7. Act on the decision and plan formed during step 6, communicate new plans if they are necessary or emerge after the decision has been made.

Conflict management styles:

1.Positive problem solving: where a person tries to find a solution that satisfies everyone involved in the conflict.

2.Compromising: where each party gives up some of their demands to form an agreement.

3.Confronting: where one party directly confronts another by pointing out issues/problems

4.Forcing: where one party uses coercion or threats to force another to do what they want

5.Bargaining: where each party gives something up in order to receive something that will benefit them both

6.Avoiding: where one or both parties try and ignore the issues at hand

7.Accommodating: where one party sacrifices their own needs/ideas/wants so as to avoid conflict with another party.

Leadership skills for conflict management:

1.Resolve to find a solution that is acceptable to everyone involved.  This means identifying the best interests of all parties so they are satisfied with the outcome.  It may also mean re-evaluating your initial thoughts regarding how you would like to see the conflict resolved so you can modify it in order to accommodate everyone’s needs.

2.Develop a plan to manage the conflict by identifying a solution that will benefit everyone involved as well as determining how you can implement it.  Keep in mind that this may not be possible if another party refuses to cooperate so finding an alternate method of resolving the conflict becomes necessary.

3.Since power struggles are often at the heart of conflicts, it is important to find ways by which you can exert your influence without appearing aggressive or oppressive.  This can be done by identifying common goals that will benefit everyone involved as well as the means through which they are implemented.

4.Be careful not to make assumptions about other person’s intentions or motivations since this can easily lead to misunderstandings.  Instead, ask questions so you can clarify the actual issues in order to find ways of resolving them.

5.Be aware that much conflict involves one or more parties refusing to participate in decision making.  In these cases, it is important to use all resources available to ensure that everyone involved must contribute in some way to the dispute.  This can be done by encouraging them to voice an opinion or make suggestions while also demonstrating the importance of their participation in order for a solution to be found.

6.When faced with an unwillingness to cooperate, it is important to make sure everyone understands that you are not trying to force them into anything against their will.  In most cases, this will help them to feel as though they have a choice so they are more likely to participate.  However, it is important to remember that only you can make the final decision regarding how things will be handled.

In conclusion, effective conflict management requires commitment from both parties.  It is also important to focus on the different ways in which conflicts are resolved so that they can be dealt with accordingly.  Additionally, it is important to find a solution that will satisfy everyone involved so they can participate more actively.

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