Conflict arises when communication breaks down between two parties. In the workplace, when pressure is on leaders, managers and workers, communication may be taken the wrong way and misunderstandings have a greater percentages of occurring. When there is unhealthy competition, it will happen more often than not, and this may create an environment of poor morale and decrease productivity and trust.

Steps for Resolving Conflict

When conflict comes up between two people, Follow these steps to effectively handle the situation to be able to learn from it and resolve it at a later time.

1. When you’re feeling activated, take a few breaths and notice how you’re feeling.

2. Describe that feeling to yourself. Is it frustration, anger, hopelessness or disdain? Does this feeling come up commonly when you’re feeling powerless?

3. Move yourself into a neutral place. Don’t block out the feeling, as it will be important to inform you later when you can process the situation. Simply rise above the feeling for a few moments. This will give you an opportunity to step away from the situation so you can communicate effectively once you’ve gotten some space away from the activated feelings.

4. Tell the person that you’d like to take some time (no more than a couple of hours) to consider what they said and that you want to understand things from all angles. Set up a time to regroup to discuss the situation later in the day. And then step away.

Processing Internally

Your goal is to give yourself time to process the situation and disengage from a conflicted state.  It is also an ideal time to learn about why feelings came up and try to figure out the source of the upset (i.e., did something similar happen when in the past?)  When you’re in conflict, communication will break down and can get hurtful. Nothing will be resolved when one or both parties are in this place. When thinking the situation through, take responsibility for your part in the conflict.

To help you process, get clarity in these four areas:

  • The experience (i.e., the situation)
  • The feelings that came up (i.e., when this happened, it made me feel…)
  • The goal/needs (i.e., I want us to work easily together and be a strong team or I need to be heard)
  • The request (i.e., next time, please ask for my suggestions)

Meet Again

When you meet again, succinctly express your findings in an honest and neutral way, using “I” statements. This allows you to take responsibility for your feelings and needs in a non-judgmental way. Avoid using “you” statements as these will lead to blame.

Practice internally first by working defining the four areas. Then you can be more comfortable and neutral when communicating again. Remember, there is no perfect communication between two people. The goal is to listen, be open and create understanding and to build trust.