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How to Handle Conflict Situations

How to Handle Conflict Situations

Conflict Management Skills

Is it true that some of the people in your organisation do not handle conflicts very well? Some of them say too much; some of them make a bad situation even worse, by losing their temper and by using angry words or bad body language. Other people don't say enough. They are not assertive enough and therefore they avoid conflict situations.

It is important that you are able to handle conflict in an assertive, but positive and professional manner. In order to do that you need to know the principles governing rational conflict management skills.

Four ways to approach conflict situations

  1. By ignoring the situation and just hoping that it goes away - No
  2. By getting angry - No
  3. By getting upset - No
  4. By using the principles of "Reason"- YES

Conflict Management and Handling Difficult People : How to Handle Conflict Situations

Here is a list of the correct conflict management principles

1. Remember your primary goal is to change their future behaviour- not to beat them in the argument and prove to them you are right and they are wrong.

2. Get the timing right. Try to have your conversation on a one-to-one basis. Don't have an argument in front of an audience. Try to pick the right moment.

3. Don't use emotional language. Don't use opinionated language. Don't tell her that she is wrong, or stupid, or unprofessional, or unfair, or that she acted inappropriately. The use of emotionalised and opinionated language makes a bad situation worse. Instead of using emotional language...

4. Use only objective, factual language. Use the language of fact. Not feelings. Use the facts of the case, to verbalise your message.

5. Create a way out of the conflict situation by suggesting the corrective action. Introduce the corrective action by using the phrase, "Instead of that, in future, would you please (do XYZ).

6. Ask for a commitment to your XYZ solution. If they don't agree ask them for their solution to the conflict.

7. Decide if their solution is reasonable or not. If their solution is reasonable then negotiate. If their solution is not reasonable, then don't negotiate. Instead hold firm to your XYZ position.

8. Do not give concessions to people who are acting unreasonably.

9. Always be prepared to find compromise with people who are acting reasonably.

10. The moment the other person moves towards your XYZ position, then give him-her positive words of approval and reinforcement. Give appreciation for the good.

11. Always remain verbally polite. Remember the phrase, "Instead of that, in future, would you please (do XYZ)". NEVER swear at the other.

If face to face; then watch your own body language and posture

  • Appearance: be careful that you don't look aggressive or frightened.
  • Touch: do not touch people, during a conflict situation.
  • Gestures: do not point at people. Only use an open hand, palms down hand gesture.
  • Expression: try to keep a relaxed facial expression.
  • Eye contact: give good eye contact. Hold his eye contact. But don't glare at him and make it a battle of wills.
  • Orientation: Stand at an angle. Don't stand square on.
  • Proximity: keep your physical distance.

If working on the phone; then be aware of your own voice tone

  • Volume: don't let your volume get too loud.
  • Pitch: keep your voice tones at the lower end of your range.
  • Pace: slow down.

Remember the need for praise and appreciation

The lack of appreciation may be the cause of a conflict situation. Remember to give praise and trigger a positive emotional response in the mind of the listener.

Use the phrase, "Thank you, I appreciate it" or "Thank you. I would very much appreciate it."

Remember that your life runs according to how well you use language. You would benefit greatly if you were to develop better communication skills.

If you don't use your language well you can talk your way into deep trouble. If you DO learn to use your language well, you can talk your way out of trouble and into the Promised Land.

Think about it.

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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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Further Reading in Conflict Management and Handling Difficult People

  • Dispute Resolution
    People disagree. But, whatever the cause of a disagreement, a manager must learn how to handle it professionally, before it escalates into conflict and interferes with the business. Here are five common strategies for resolving disputes.
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  • How to give feedback
    Feedback is a crucial concept, in the development of every person. We all need feedback on our performance.
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  • How to Handle a Difficult Person in Six Easy Steps
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  • Learn How to Take Criticism
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  • How to Deal with Conflict Situations
    Conflict is inevitable when dealing with people who do not think or act the way you believe to be correct. Learning how to handle conflict situations is important.
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