“Never cut what you can untie”
Joseph Joubert

In situations of conflict – in business and in life – the ongoing relationship is often more important than being ‘right’.

sharing dogsI told you so” was never a good way to point out someone’s mistake, was it?

Focus on the importance of the relationship, rather than gloating (or creating the impression that you are gloating).  Help the other person save face, just like you would hope they would do for you when you screw up… because we all do, don’t we?

We base a lot of our perspectives and outlook on our past.  We might find it difficult to resist the urge to achieve a feeling of significance at someone else’s expense – because maybe we sometimes feel insignificant.

Usually we can attribute it to something that happened in the past.  Remember, though, that that’s where it belongs – in the past.

Use the past as a reference library, not a home

Develop a ‘fix-not-fight’ mentality.  Work together to resolve difficulties for mutual advantage, rather than being defensive or going on the offensive.

Understanding each other’s position can lead to stronger relationships and greater cohesion.  Apply Habit 5 from Dr Stephen Covey’s brilliant programme, the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:  ‘seek first to understand, then to be understood’.

That’s when a degree of conflict can be positively helpful – it can be a great source of creativity.

Negative, escalating conflict is destructive.  It festers and ferments, spiralling to a place of no return if not dealt with.

Whilst it’s certainly best to ‘nip it in the bud’, it’s never too late to act.  Understand the other person’s point of view and discuss it with them.  You might find that the disagreement is in actual fact about something – or someone – completely different…

Top Tips

 Here are some top tips for managing and resolving our daily conflicts – there are of course many more strategies: 

  • Listen – something we all know we should do yet often don’t
  • Avoid the temptation to bite back
  • Take a deep breath, count to ten (well, at least 5!)
  • Ask questions – helpful questions, not accusations
  • Take a little time out
  • Write it down, sleep on it; avoid an immediate (usually email) heated response or discussing it in an online post (eg Facebook, Twitter) – you might regret it later
  • Focus your explanation/response on how you feel – not on how it makes you feel, as that is blaming the other person
  • Invite suggestions about how to resolve the solution
  • Bring in a trusted neutral person as a mediator if it’s too difficult to address it on your own

Remember that you are negotiating. It’s a process for achieving either mutual agreement or respectful disagreement.

Overall, the best approach is to treat others the way you would like them to treat you – even if that is not how you have yourself been treated.  In the longer term, it will pay off… because we’re always negotiating.