5 Ways to Deal With Conflict

CONFLICT. Whether it's in the workplace, in your own business or in a relationship, it's never something that's nice to be a part of. Here are 5 tips to help you deal with it.

1. Find out the information first. 

If you become aware of something bad that's happened, an unacceptable act or a rumour, make sure you find out all the information before you get involved. One of the most common types of heated arguments is when person A hears something they don't like, they make an assumption, attack person B who gets incredibly defensive because they're being incorrectly accused. Person B may be wrong, but you may not have the whole picture and now you've made it worse.

It's also important to define what behaviour is unacceptable before you reprimand someone. You may end up roasting someone for doing something that they genuinely didn't know was wrong. This is particularly important if you are managing someone at work. If you haven't set clear guidelines, then that's on you. 

2. Take a moment before you speak.

Before you speak to the other person in this conflict, take a moment. Just a few deep breaths. Do not communicate when you are angry or in a negative state, you will say things you don't mean and damage relationships because you're in the heat of the moment. Combine this with not having all the facts, and you may potentially ruin a relationship irreversibly. I don't know how many times I've spoken to couples who scream and yell at each other calling them terrible names just to massively regret it later.

By the way, none of these are easy! You have to be a strong person to control your emotions, but you will be amazed at the results.

3. See their side of view.  

No matter what has happened, put yourself in the other person's shoes. Even if they are completely in the wrong, it's still important to do this. It will help you understand why they acted that way, and it will also help you handle the situation. This can be very hard to do, but I promise it's worth doing.

4. Focus on behaviour, not personalities.

This is a fantastic concept taken from the classic business book "The One Minute Manager". Particularly useful for workplace scenarios, it's about telling the person that you're not upset with them, you're upset with what they've done. The person might be a great worker but they might a a genuine error. We're not perfect and we all make mistakes, so acknowledge that they've done something wrong but you appreciate they aren't always like this. It's important to describe the scenario, instead of generalising. For example you would say 'when this happens' instead of 'when you do' or  'you always do this'. Don't do that! It offends people.

5. View is as an opportunity.

They say couples that don't fight aren't as close as those who do. I agree with this (obviously to some extent). Whether it's in business or your personal life, arguments and conflict can actually make the relationship stronger and bring you closer together when handled correctly. Even if you handled it poorly, or you yelled at someone when you shouldn't have, this is an opportunity to learn. What did you do wrong? What will you do next time? 

One last point here, if you are wrong, always say sorry. If someone did something to you, you might not have been wrong in the first place. But if you handled it poorly, accused someone and used foul language, now you are wrong. Apologise - they will appreciate it and they will probably end up apologising too.

BONUS: Does it even matter?

Finally, decide if this even matters at all. A lot of the time, we let little things turn into big things, and we do it intentionally! If you let something become bigger than it is, it will. Think: Will this matter in a year? Will it matter in a month? A week? Does this matter at all? Even if you are not wrong, small scenarios can end up breaking relationships and that is not worth ruining over one argument. This is not to suggest ignoring everything in life, some things obviously require attention. But just think about it - is this really important?

With these 5 tips you will be able to manage your relationships and conflicts better. It's not easy to do, but certainly worth it! I recommend checking out the book Don't Sweat the Small Stuff: and It's All Small Stuff for a great read. Enjoy!


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