I love looking into human behavior, speech patterns and actions. They tell a lot about people and basically demonstrate their inner selves. After doing some communication study last year, this year and in my own free time I’ve compiled an easy go-to guide for resolving conflict and what to do if it doesn’t work out very well. Please enjoy!
In this post I’ll explain and give examples of what to do, things to avoid, things to look out for and how to deal with the uncooperative. I’ve created a worksheet you can use here! conflict resolution
What started the conflict?
Was it a behavior, an emotion, a situation? understand what actually happened and take the time to reflect on that. Could it have been avoided, if so, how? What would lessen the impact? What triggered it? Are you making assumptions and reading too deeply into something that isn’t there? Were you just having a bad day when it happened? These are the things you need to know before confronting the person/s at hand of the situation. This can take an hour to a month to actually realise everything. Take your time.
What are the facts?
This is important, if you don’t have actual facts or evidence then you don’t have any grounds to work on or do anything with. Detach your emotions away from the facts and compile them in a list. So instead of, “I feel like….” you look into it as “it happened like this….” and so on. Take absolutely every emotion out of the facts, that comes in later and can destroy any facts you have. Assumptions and accusations are not facts so they fall under emotions. Using the above, take the facts out of that and you’ll be amazed that there is either more to the conflict or less to the conflict. Also, take the time to look at the things you have done wrong in this situation, not just the other person/s, it’s important to take responsibility for your actions.
What are the emotions?
Now this is when your emotions are important. Look at the facts and understand how you feel about them and look at how the other person would feel about them. Conflict resolution isn’t just about you and your side, it’s their side too. So you could work with something like “When this happened I felt …… and I understand you would have felt …. “. This might sound complicated, but don’t assume how they felt. Look at their behaviour around you and/or the situation and you can pick it up from there. Don’t make your feelings invalid, they matter just as much as the other persons.
Are there any solutions?
You can’t resolve conflict without having a few solutions up your sleeve, this also involves working with the other person/s. Is there a way it can be avoided in the future? What’s the best way to go about it? Do you know the other person well enough to know how they would deal with it? Ask yourself what you want as a solution and figure out how to present it. Using things like “I think this can be avoided by …. what do you think?” or “I have a few solutions for the situation and I want to know your thoughts on them ….” Never confront without having solutions. Never.
Okay, so what if they aren’t the type of person you can reason with and get them to understand things? That one is hard. You really have to change your approach in a way that can’t be twisted or create miscommunication. If they don’t want to see your side, still give it to them. They might not listen now but sometimes in the future, people realise things and that might be one of them. Sometimes these people need more time to handle things or more time to reflect on themselves and change for the better.
Taking responsibility for yourself
Always take responsibility for yourself and be mature about these things. Nothing good ever comes from ignoring people, avoiding people and not being a decent person. It’s important to know where you stuffed up and realise that maybe what you did isn’t okay and ignoring it won’t make it go away. If the other person isn’t taking responsibility for themselves, don;t force them or guilt them. Over time, people realise what went wrong and will sometimes try and fix these things. It doesn’t always go that way, but if you did what you could, that’s all that matters.
Now let’s put it all together!
This is the fun/scary/anxious/terrifying part, the time that you actual confront them. There’s 2 ways of doing this. The first way is to be a gigantic asshole about it, and the second way is to form a logical and constructive ‘argument’ that gets your point across assertively whilst being nice.
Starting off with a “Do you have time to talk about what happened?” or “There’s a few things I want to discuss with you, if you’re feeling up to it” can be a good start. You show your intentions without causing more conflict.
Then jump into the facts. “This is what happened from my side and I’d like to see your side of the facts” or “I understand that this this and this happened, I contributed to this by …. and I know you contributed to this by …. what is your side of the facts?” are a good template to formulate the discussion from.
Bring in your emotions now. “It made me feel like …. when …. happened.” or “I didn’t appreciate you doing …. and I don’t understand why….” or “I just feel like ….. when you do this and I don’t like it”. You could do this part in so many ways but be careful not to be an asshole. It’s also important to ask them how they felt, “How did that make you feel when I did ….” or “How would you feel if I did the things you did to me, to you?” or something like that. Make sure you actually listen and acknowledge the other person/s feelings and thoughts. If the conflict isn’t over, you haven’t listened to each other or accepted each others side.
Almost at the end now! Bring in your solutions. “I thought a great way of dealing with this is ….” or “In the future a great way to avoid this is …”. Be reasonable, don’t ask for a lot but also don’t expect a lot. There’s only so much you can do depending on the situation. You’re just making it easier on yourself and the other person. You don’t even have to like the other person, just dealing with that conflict will make you more mentally healthy (trust me on that, mentally healthy people don’t hold grudges or hold things against people).
Last but not least, ask them what their thoughts are at the end and explain yours. Are you happy that it was discussed in length? What would you change? Is there anything you can do for each other that works? Even tell each other about how resolved the situation actually is. It’s healthy to talk about these things with the actual person/s involved than to pressure it onto someone else.
Don’t do these during conflict resolution:
- Yell or scream
- Make accusations without having evidence
- Choose how the other person is feeling
- Bring others into the situation that aren’t in the facts
- Discredit the feelings and thoughts of the other person
- Name call
- Be unapproachable
Do these during conflict resolution:
- Ask for feedback
- Value the emotions and thoughts
- Offer ideas
- Be honest
- Understand all perspectives
- Try and find positives
- Support each other whilst doing it
- Have someone else in the room or screen shot messages to prevent miscommunication, lying or false story telling
- Listen to each other
- Be assertive but polite
I hope this may have helped, it’s very hard to get into the habit of doing but it can be an advantage. I honestly believe conflict resolution should be a skill everyone should be taught. It worth writing all of the parts of this down and even having it on you at the time you choose to talk to the person/s involved in the situation. As easy as it can be to shut the other person/s off and ignore their side, it’s important to know it and take it in. It’s how we grow as people. If people don’t understand or don’t try to, let it go and forget about them. Sometimes they do the work of cutting themselves of for you.