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How to Deal With Conflict Situations

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Posted 27 March 2015 by Chris FarmerChris Farmer

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How to Deal With Conflict Situations

Conflict is inevitable. You are bound to get some conflict, sometimes. Why?

Because other people don't share your views.

  • What you think is good, other people think is NO good.
  • What you think is funny, other people think is NOT funny.
  • What you think is fair, other people think is NOT fair.

So conflict is inevitable. You are going to have to deal with other people who don't act the way you think they should act, nor do they speak to you in the way you expect to be spoken. Therefore you are in a conflict situation.

How should you handle a conflict situation?

You have five major options.

Conflict

  1. You could get angry and annoyed. NOT recommended.
  2. You could get tearful and upset. NOT recommended.
  3. You could run away from the whole situation, and hide in a quiet corner. NOT recommended.
  4. You could punch the other person on the nose. DOUBLY NOT recommended, or
  5. You could use a rational, logical approach to handling conflict. HIGHLY recommended.

What does it mean to say, "Use a rational logical approach to handling conflict"?

It means: Don't get angry. Don't get upset. Don't run away. Don't bop him on the nose.

Instead: Separate the facts from the feelings and talk about the facts of what has happened, apart from the feelings.

Talk about the other person's behaviour in factual terms, without the use of emotional, evaluative, opinionated language.

  1. State in factual, objective terms what the other person has done wrong.
  2. Then immediately state the corrective action. What do you want the other person to do instead? Again state the request in the form of objective factual language. Not emotional. Not opinionated.
  3. Ask the person to do the corrective action by using the phrase, "Instead of that, would you please....."
  4. The moment that the other person makes any move towards your requested action, then immediately tag it with a word of appreciation and/ or thanks.

Example of how a conflict script should NOT sound

Imagine the scene is this: you arranged to meet a colleague John, at 2pm to discuss a problem and you have only an hour for the meeting before your next appointment. The colleague John arrives 25 minutes late and he is carrying a hot Costa coffee cup in his hand, and says,

"Sorry I'm late - Traffic".

You say, "Then how come you have had time to stop and get a bloody Costa coffee then? Really John, you make me so angry when you do things like this. You wander in 25 minutes late and spin me a story about traffic when it's patently obvious you were late because you couldn't be bothered to be on time. It shows a complete lack of respect for my time, and it demonstrates an unprofessional attitude to your work. Now, don't ever do that to me again. Now tell, me, what are you able to do to help me with this problem I've been given to deal with.......?"

Can you see that the above script is full of anger, emotion, and derogatory language?

Here is an alternative script, that uses the principles listed above.

  • A factual objective statement of what is wrong.
  • A factual objective statement of what is the corrective action.
  • A request to comply using "Instead of that would you please....?"

"John. You're 25 minutes late for our meeting. And you have arrived carrying a Costa coffee in your hand. Next time, instead of being late for our meeting, would you please, make sure you are on time?"

John says, "Yes. Sorry, but there was a lot of traffic. I would have been here on time if it wasn't for the traffic?"

(Don't get drawn into a pointless fight about the coffee).

"I understand that there is traffic, but you are late. In future would you please, be on time or early?"

He says, "I'll try."

You say, "Thank you. Now what do you think you could do to help me with this problem I have been given to deal with..?"

Can you see the second script is more objective, more rational, less emotionalised and more likely to keep john "on-side" with you for the duration of the meeting?

Summary

  • Don't get angry.
  • Don't get upset.
  • Don't bop him on the nose.
  • Make a factual objective statement of what is wrong.
  • Make a factual objective statement of what is the corrective action.
  • Make a request to comply using "Instead of that would you please....?"
  • Be more objective, more rational more controlled and professional.

Then you'll get the best possible result from a conflict situation.

Conflict Management

Conflict Management Training

Conflict is inevitable, because people disagree. Therefore, you must be able to handle conflict situations effectively. You must know how to be assertive, clear and professional (not emotional, upset and angry) whilst in conflict. If you want to learn more on how to achieve this, please click here to see our conflict management training.

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