Conflict Resolution Strategies

Good conflict resolution strategies are helpful, but you do need to know who you're arguing with and what their beliefs are.

Sometimes, you might be afraid to speak up when there is a conflict, feeling that you are just making it worse.  You just hold it in and start getting angry or depressed. 

Not resolving your conflict will make things worse but it will also affect your health and those around you.

Of course, you can try conflict resolution techniques that actually backfire because you never learned the correct way to resolve conflict.

Growing up, you were taught to avoid fights and disagreements.  It's always better to walk away instead of getting in the midst of things. You might get hurt, both physically or emotionally. Let the other person get their way.  It's not worth the fight.

Your parents probably made the decisions for you and you left it to them.  If you were unsure of what to do, you probably asked other people to decide for you.

By avoiding all the conflicts when you were younger, it may have set you up for a lifetime of not learning how to resolve things or make decisions.

Types of Conflict

There are two types of conflicts.  Those that are internal (within yourself) and those that are external (within other people.)

Internal Conflict

Conflict Resolution Strategies

The internal conflict can cause more problems with some people because it paralyzes them.  People will stop and not do anything for the fear of choosing the wrong thing.  You become unhappy and upset when there isn't anything triggering it. 

Conflict can be with your own values, beliefs or goals.  If they don't get resolved, they will end up affecting others.

An example is a retired couple had a goal of living in a smaller place.  They sold their home, but didn't know whether they should live near family in a warm climate or live where they were comfortable, but no family in a colder climate.

Instead, they are staying with a relative in one place, then staying with friends in another place.  With this type of behavior, the goal is not being met.  This leads to depressing feelings.  To resolve this conflict, a decision has to be made.

One of the conflict resolution strategies that can be used is to take a piece of paper and write down the pros and cons of living in each climate.  Things need to be looked at in a realistic way, not with emotions.

To get to that step, a person really needs to get in touch with their feelings.  Why do they feel a certain way?  Perhaps they're angry or sad over something but don't realize that's what is causing the problem.

By spending the time thinking about it and not putting the emotions into it, you'll be able to figure out the best place to live.  Really look at controllable factors, not those that "may" appear (i.e. the housing market might go down, relatives might move away, etc.)

External Conflict

External conflict affects more than just the people involved.  It might be between two people, but coworkers, family members or team mates can be affected as well.

Effective listening is an important aspect of external conflict resolution strategies.  Not everyone has the capability to listen to the other person. It is very important to listen and understand the other person's point of view.  Sometimes just listening to them can bring you closer to a resolution.

But, listening doesn't always happen.  Many times the person that's supposed to be listening is coming up with their own thing to say next because they think the other person is wrong.  Or, you can be so involved in your own side of the story that you can't possibly see the other person's point of view.  I see this happen a lot with political discussions.

One of the good conflict resolution strategies is that it's important to communicate your feelings clearly without putting the other person on the defensive.  Instead of using "you" statements such as "you always do this...," its better to use "I feel" statements such as "I feel that you are always doing this..."

It is the differences between people that can cause conflicts.  People have different beliefs, goals, values, behaviors or expectations.

Conflict Resolution Strategies Between Two or More People

There are two different conflict resolution strategies to help resolve conflicts.

Resolving conflict through compromise:

This is the easiest way to resolve conflict.  People need to understand each other's point of view.  When both parties give up something and meet in the middle.  Even though they don't get everything they want, they do get something positive in return.  Sometimes someone's feelings are very strong on an issue that they feel their view is important.  By giving in they must understand that the other person will be able to have it their way the next time.

Resolving conflict through collaboration:

Collaboration is using peoples' strengths to work together.  In order to get a project done with everyone involved, look at what each person brings to the table.  Perhaps one person is good at making phone calls, another is good at using the computer, still another can spend hours doing research and yet another is good at coordinating and putting things together.

Everyone has their strengths and skills and when they work together, they will have a successful end result that ties in their similar goals and beliefs.

Internal Conflict Resolution Strategies

First, you need to know exactly what you want and plan to achieve it.  Once you do this, you will have more desire to move forward towards that goal. 

Then you have to find out what that internal conflict is and confront it.  When you think about this conflict, notice how your body is reacting to it.  Are you nervous, worried, do you get headaches or are you depressed?  When you think of each side of the conflict, write down those feelings and what triggers them.

Notice whether you are doing the right thing for how you feel.  Take that retired couple, for instance.  They should note how they feel when they think about living in the warm climate versus the cold climate.  That should be a good indication to help them move forward.

Another step is to actually visualize yourself with that decision.  Do this every day.  Picture yourself making that decision.  See how you will feel with the choice you have made.  You will soon come to realize the right thing to do.

Don't give up.  Keep doing working on these conflict resolution strategies  and the burden of the internal conflict will be lifted.

Conflict resolution needs to be seen as an opportunity to succeed.  Learn from the conflicts rather than giving up.

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