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Make Your Relationships Stronger In The Midst Of Conflict


The general conscience is not many people like conflict unfortunately; however, it is a part of life and relationships. It is inevitable. Conflict is proof that we are all unique individuals with distinctive values, opinions and perceptions.

In the workplace as with all types of relationships, conflict can be either a positive “power driver” or counterproductive. Left unresolved, conflicts can sabotage the best of working environments and/or relationships. Conflict must be dealt with head-on, particularly when it is interfering with people working together as a team–whether at work or as partners, friends or any other type of relationship.

Conflicts run the gamete from minor to major. Anytime it interferes, whatever the conflict, it needs to be resolved. Confrontation is the only way. The trick, however, is to do it in a way in which the conversation stays productive and the relationship(s) remain intact. The skills needed to resolve a major conflict are the same skills needed to resolve a minor conflict. Let’s first take a look at the widely accepted five causes of conflict and their definitions.

Control – The basic human desire to effect the direction of events; to gain or retain power or resources.

Preferences – This refers to the way we go about doing things; our personal styles, habits, tendencies and methods.

Beliefs about Facts – What we believe to be true and how this may differ from the actual, real truth.

Values – Values are the essence of who we are and how we see the world. It is hard to resolve conflicts that involve values.

Relationship – This refers to the history that people may have with each other. This involves issues such as past experiences, past business, or the hierarchy or reporting structure if within a work environment.

Conflicts can arise due to one or more of these five factors. Other issues can also contribute to the situation–escalating a conflict beyond its initial causes to the point of a major conflict where the initial cause is almost if not forgotten.

So how do we resolve conflict? First there must be rational, unemotional communication. Often times, this is much harder than it sounds. But getting the emotion out of a conflict and looking at a situation logically is the first step. Additionally, look at the real, actual facts–the truth of the situation. Don’t beat around the bush and throw the kitchen sink into the discussion. Stick to the conflict at hand.

Other methods to resolve conflict include:

Collaborating: Asserting your views while also inviting others perspectives.

Compromising: Urge moderation and “split the difference” in an attempt to meet people halfway. Compromising is a good method to use in finding quick solutions to conflicts.

Accommodating: Accepting the other person’s view or acknowledging an error.

Avoiding: Delaying your response or withdrawing from the situation. Only use this approach when one or both of the parties are angry and need time to cool off.

Forcing: Attempting to control the outcome by discouraging disagreement and insisting on your view. Force is best used in a work place environment when a quick resolution is needed. Avoid using force to resolve conflicts in personal relationships.

In conflict resolution, no single style is the better way to resolve the conflict. Knowing the relationship and the person who you are in conflict with will help you in determining which method is best to use.

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Listed: May 10, 2008 5:17 am