6 Sage Tips for Managing Conflict

Conflict is an unavoidable challenge that we all encounter. It’s also an opportunity to sharpen our communication skills and develop deeper relationships. Having the soft skills necessary to manage conflict is important professionally, as well as personally, and helps us to navigate our social environments with greater ease. What can you do to successfully manage conflict? These 6 tips provide the insight you need to tame the sexy beast: [space]

1.  Avoid blaming others.  Adopt an offensive posture, which means taking responsibility for your own actions. We all know that it takes two to tango! Also, instead of making the other person “wrong” and blaming them for “causing” the conflict, focus on your feelings and make sure that your language reflects this. For example, “I feel ignored when I make suggestions” is more useful than the accusatory “You ignore my suggestions.” [space]

2.  Be an active listener.  Are you really listening when someone else is speaking? Guess what? The other person can tell if you’re not. Don’t be that person. Listen. Give good eye contact. Reassure through positive body language (like nodding). Avoid distractions like looking at your phone. And, finally, use language to demonstrate interest and understanding: ask questions; verbalize your understanding by playing back significant points; use the terms of art and importance identified by your conversation partner: “I need an office with a window” is very different than “I want a cubicle with sufficient light.” [space]

3.  Establish a culture of openness.  Do people feel comfortable talking to you about the things that really matter? Make sure that they do. Discuss early and often your desire for others to let you know when things aren’t working. Don’t be defensive. Your positive attitude will empower others to be open and honest. [space]

4.  Understand timing. Not all things must be discussed in the heat of the moment. Sometimes “cooling off” can produce the best results. Yet, other times, it makes better sense to address the issue right away. Use good judgment. [space]

5.  Look for solutions. It’s easy to get bogged down in the muck and mire of problems, isn’t it? But, the whole point of conflict management is to SOLVE problems, not belabor them. Avoid the tendency to remain bogged down in what’s not working and elevate the discussion to solution-based initiatives.  Be proactive, creative, and work together. Even if the other person strays, make it your responsibility to get them back on track. [space]

6.  Maintain confidences.  If you haven’t created a safe space for discussion, don’t expect sharing to occur. Rarely is there a legitimate need for others to become privy to private conversations. Similarly, don’t get involved in workplace gossip; people simply won’t trust you. It takes courage to be vulnerable. Respect that sentiment by keeping confidential matters confidential. [space]

Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq. CS, is the Founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport (www.wordsmithrapport.com). Follow her on Twitter @WSRapport. On Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/wordsmithrapport.com.

Karima Mariama-Arthur

Karima Mariama-Arthur is founder and CEO of WordSmithRapport (www.wordsmithrapport.com), a boutique consulting firm located in Washington, D.C. which specializes in professional development. She consults individuals and organizations on the dynamics of complex communication and high-performance leadership competence.

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