Every time you are on the path to success, there is inevitably the possibility of conflict. It’s just a fact of life. You are bringing two or more people into a group and there is the potential for conflict – and conflict, if handled improperly, can destroy your ability to move on and achieve your goals.

This applies to many areas of life, from the boardroom to the classroom. When conflicts go bad, there is no success. The good news is that conflict can be healthy and can actually bring you closer to success. Success is based on relationships, and relationships provide an opportunity for conflict. To be successful, you have to master conflict.

When you are the one facing the problem with someone else, use these strategies.

Don’t assume it.

Don’t assume the worst. Don’t assume they mean what you mean. Don’t assume they know any better. Don’t assume they did it on purpose. The fact is that most of our assumptions are wrong and all of our assumptions result in us digging out of a deeper hole.

Ask questions.

Since you cannot accept anything, you must begin your confrontation with finding out the facts as this person sees them. Here are some questions to ask:

  • What was your intention in saying or doing that?
  • What were the thoughts behind those words or actions?
  • Do you realize how that was perceived?

Tell them how you perceive things or how you feel instead of what they did.

It’s never good to start by saying to someone, “You did this!” Instead, say something like, “I have a feeling your action might have been better if you…” or “I think the way and Way that came over could have been … ”.

Treat one problem at a time.

If you fight back a little, you might be tempted to say, “Well, that’s not all. In fact, some of us think that you need to work on it too … “If there’s another problem, try another time. Too many conflicts go back and forth and don’t solve the original problem. Stick to one point and see it through to resolution.

If someone confronts you, try these tips.

No offense.

In the worst case scenario, you screwed it up. But that doesn’t make you a bad person. So don’t pretend they blamed your character (unless they did, in which case you should try to bring the conversation back to the facts). When we take things personally we become even more protective and tend to get defensive and end up escalating the conflict even more.

Don’t counter.

This goes back to dealing with one problem at a time. Do not try to justify or hide the conflict the person is having with you by flaunting their problems. If you have a problem, fine; talk about it later. Don’t pollute the water with a debate about who is better or less guilty. As difficult as it is, let the conversation run its course until it is resolved.

Ask for some time for objective reflection.

One way to prevent conflicts from escalating is to simply ask for time to think about it. When people meet us we often had no idea that it was coming. Our natural tendency is to fight out of reaction. When we stop and think about it

, we can be objective and approach the situation objectively, or at least rather.

Schedule a time to come back with them and discuss the problem.

Let the person know that you take their concern seriously and that you want to address it in a timely manner. Schedule a time no more than three days away to get back together. They won’t react, and they may even find that they were exposed too soon.

Below are some best practices for either person to start the conflict.

Keep the big picture in mind.

Is this the hill you wanna die on? Realize how important this topic really is. Most things are just not worth getting upset about or being so upset that the relationship breaks down. Is it worth sacrificing a productive business relationship because the partner wears too much eau de cologne or the spouse is talking loudly at parties? Of course not, but some people go to war because of these things.

Always respect the other person as a person.

No matter what you’ve done, you are a person of value and deserve to be treated that way. You are not the sum of your mistakes. You have hopes and dreams, fears and worries, strengths and weaknesses. Take some time to introduce them to outside of the office, play with their kids, or do something fun. This will personalize your problem and keep you from going overboard.

Be solution oriented.

Whatever you do, don’t focus on the problem. Ask yourself and the other person to approach the problem with the idea that you are both working on a solution that will be mutually beneficial. Instead of asking, “Why in the world did you do this? What did you think? “Ask,” OK, what’s done is done; what can we do to fix this? ” That’s a lot more productive. The goal is to get things going again, not to keep punishing the other person.

Conflicts don’t have to end badly. In fact, it can lead you to develop a deeper and more trusting relationship with the person you had a conflict with. So the next time you face or face, try the tips above to help you face the conflict in a more productive and positive way.

This article was published in July 2009 and has been updated.
Photo by fizkes / Shutterstock

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