Conflict Resolution Strategies
Conflict can be Good
Conflict causes ill feelings, like an itch that needs to be scratched. It is however inevitable, and individuals can use conflict to their advantage.
Musicians use sustaining chords to create an uneasy feeling before the satisfying resolving chord. Screenplay writers are masters of conflict. Without it, the story sucks, there’s no climax, and no resolution at the end. Artists use conflict in their works to make their art interesting.
Life’s conflicts make life interesting and sometimes funny; if you need an example, just watch any evening sitcom.
Learn to deal with conflict appropriately, so you don’ t have that awful itch sensation without the tools to scratch it.
Keep Yourself Calm
Don't pull your hair out. Get to the root of the conflict.
Manage Conflict: Don't Let Conflict Manage You
Resolving conflict is an important skill to use when working with others, but it is necessary to understand the root of the conflict before using strategies to fix it.
One misconception is that conflict is a negative thing; however, conflict is one of the best opportunities to strengthen relationships.
Teams who are able to work through conflict become more likely to succeed in future. Conflict resolution in personal relationships is no different. The best strategies for resolving the conflict are going to depend on the situation. Some conflicts need to be resolved immediately. Resolving a conflict with peers may look much different than resolving a conflict with your boss. And consider the number of people involved.
Another misconception is that conflict only occurs between individuals. Internal conflict can cause strife that is sometimes more difficult to identify and resolve. Before attempting to resolve conflict with another person you should be sure you do not have internal conflict. In other words, don’t fight when you don’t even know what you stand for.
Internal conflict is not when you are arguing about one thing with someone when you are really upset about them doing another thing. Internal conflict is the kind that makes you unhappy with no apparent reason. Refer to the illustration of potential conflict sources. Notice that all points written in black capital letters are within your own self or your own actions. Don’t forget that conflict can occur in these areas. Be sensitive to your own personal struggles to avoid projecting problems on others, and creating external conflict with others.
Internal Conflict can make you Anxious - Internal conflict can feel just as bad as conflict with others.
Internal Conflict: Conflict within Yourself
You have a goal to become a songwriter and need to buy a guitar, but you are not saving your money for the guitar. You are using your money on frivolous items such as dining out and entertainment.
In this case your behaviors are not in line with your established goal. This creates internal conflict that can produce negative feelings. In this case take responsibility and avoid blaming others. Just realising the issue may give you enough insight and motivation to resolve the conflict.
Internal Conflict Identification activity:
1. Write your name in the middle of a blank piece of paper
2. Surround your name with words that describe you such as: Artist, Footballer, Plumber, Giver, Lover, Competitive, etc. Go beyond physical descriptions.
3. Use another color and write another layer of your goals. Use action words such as: Attend College, Be a good mom, Keep my car clean, Visit my grandparents more, Become a great artist, etc.
4. Next, use another color and write your behaviors that relate to your descriptions of yourself and your goals such as: I paint every day, I take lessons sometimes, I used to place my art in contests, I change art teachers when they put down my work, and I never paint with other people.
5. Finally, Draw lines between your descriptions of yourself, your goals, and your actions that are related. For example: Artist----Become a great artist----used to paint every day---- sometimes take lessons----used to enter contests----change art teachers often----Don’t paint with others.
In this example, the person views himself or herself as an artist with the goal of becoming a great artist, but is clearly having trouble with being evaluated by others in different situations. In this case to resolve the internal conflict the person needs to modify goals and/or behaviors.
The great solution here would be to create a new goal that was not at first apparent: Allow others to critique my art. The conflict could have been viewed as a conflict with others (everyone who ever gives negative feedback). The pattern of repeated conflict in different situations and settings illuminated the real issue. In this case a new goal and related set of behaviors, allowing others to critique, resolves the root of the internal conflict.
Notice that in this case the solution is to create more specific goals. In other words, to be a great artist is a goal, but accepting criticism is a specific attainable goal that will help the individual achieve the ultimate goal of becoming great. These new insights brought out by introspection result in personal growth and development.
Once the individual has resolved the internal conflict, he or she may need to apologise to those who have been inadvertently hurt as a result. For example, apologise to the art instructor that was cussed out for being honest. Becoming more aware of your own personal beliefs, goal, and values as well as noticing behaviors can prevent future internal conflict.
After the internal conflict is resolved and conflict with others exists it is time to incorporate external conflict strategies.
See Part Two: External Conflict: Conflict with Others