Conflict is a disagreement or quarrel, occurring as a result of difference in opinions. It is one of our day to day struggles when dealing with people. Once you are working with people in any project or activity, conflicts are bound to occur but the question now is how do we handle this conflict as they arise? When conflict is mismanaged, it can cause great harm to a relationship, but when handled in a respectful positive way, conflict provides an opportunity to strengthen the bond between two people or groups.
Conflict can arise whenever people disagree over their values, perceptions, ideas, or desires. It could also be as a result of misinterpretations, misunderstandings and conflicts of interest.
Some skills required includes:
- Understand others emotion: Have you ever felt a certain way but lack the exact words to describe those feelings? Guess what? Others feel that way too. This might seem simple but some people do not know exactly how to handle feelings (like anger, sadness etc). They either ignore or mute them. If you are afraid of these kinds of emotions or are unable to properly express or understand them, your ability to resolve conflict will be limited. For you to resolve conflict, you have to understand what is really troubling other people and communicate clearly and effectively so as to enable full understanding.
- Active listening: To resolve conflict you have to listen and be attentive. That way, you can be able to figure out what caused the problem and how to bring about a solution. Listen and understand each person’s point of view about the issue on ground. This will enable you analyze the situation and come up with ideas that will help restore peace. Remember that strong emotions are at work here so you have to get through the emotion and reveal the true nature of the conflict. Whatever the situation may be, it is important to clarify people’s stand in terms of their opinion, the team they support and their point of view on the matter on ground. While doing this, be courteous and polite. This step alone can go a long way to resolve the conflict, as it helps the team see the facts more objectively and with less emotions.
- Impartiality: Resolving conflicts can be difficult and because people have different views on things, these differences escalate. Conflict most commonly involves two or more parties. When trying to resolve conflict it is very easy to take sides because of a personal relationship or friendship but look at the issue on ground and deal with it. While handling these issues, address the problem and not the persons involved. Give the right judgment.
- Patience: If you have ever been in the middle of a conflict before, you will realize that it takes a lot of time, argument, energy, effort, disagreements, insults, shouting and depending on the intensity, it might lead to a full blown fist fight 😂 etc. One of the key requirements is Patience. Patience to listen to the parties involved, understand the situation and bring a great solution that will not leave any group left out, in doubt or confused is a virtue.
- Avoid taking sides/ Pointing fingers: Try to see things from both point of views. You might not totally agree to the other peoples ideas but be open minded and try to understand where they are coming from before you shut them up or rule them out. You will know people better if you understand their point of view. Try not to make people feel unsafe for giving their opinion. Be open. Give everyone the opportunity to air their opinion without shutting them up because you won’t want that to be done to you. Use statements that will build others and make them comfortable airing their opinions rather than being mean and rude. Adopt the approach “listen before you talk.
- Explore options: Everyone most times feel they are right and changing that impression can be quite difficult which requires patience. Most times, no one needs to win because everyone was right but from different perspectives. Be clear about the facts and then work together to agree on a resolution. Give everyone the opportunity to help state out solutions to resolving the conflict. Give everyone a chance to speak. You might use the 5 conflict managing stratagies which are accommodating, avoiding, compromising, collaborating or competing depending on the situation presented.