How to Manage Conflict
Managing conflict is never easy, whether you're trying to resolve a conflict of your own or trying to help two people settle a dispute. The most important thing to know is that the longer you let the situation continue, the worse it'll be when it's time to resolve it. So take a deep breath, maintain your cool, and get ready to find a solution that can make everyone (reasonably) happy. 1. Make a plan for meeting. If two people are genuinely in conflict and you want to help them -- or they need your help -- then you should plan a time to meet that would make everybody happy. Of course, you may just walk into a conflict and have to solve it on the spur of the moment, but hopefully you have some time to plan in advance. If so, pick a time and place that works for both people, and make sure that they are both invested in solving the conflict. If there's real trouble, then the sooner you can get together, the better. Ad
Let each person state his or her side of the story. If you are in charge of managing a conflict, whether it's because you're a manager or because you're helping two people figure out their issues, you have to be an active listener. Let each person express his or her position and listen with compassion and care until each person has stated his or her feelings and desires. Don't let the people interrupt each other and make it clear that each person will take turns fully explaining him or her self. Make sure that both people are really listening to each other instead of just waiting until their turn to have their say. If necessary, have one person repeat some of the main points the other person made, so it's clear that they both have an understanding of how each person is feeling. 3.
Make it clear that you are there to help resolve, not solve. The people who are in conflict must figure out how to move past their problems on their own, not look to you for a magical solution that will make all of their problems go away. You should make this clear from the start so both parties know that they have to work hard and listen actively before they can move forward. You are there to mediate so the conflict doesn't get out of control and so that both parties can look at the situation with more objectivity and control, but that doesn't mean you will provide them with an answer. 4.
Maintain your objectivity. Even if you think that Lucy is obviously in the right and Mary is 100% wrong, it is not your position to say so. If you jump in on Lucy's side, then Mary will feel like you're both ganging up against her and the conflict will be even further from a resolution. Instead, keep your own personal opinions and ideas out of it and treat each person's perspective with compassion and respect. Even if one person is more "right" than the other, they both still have to reach a solution that can reasonably please both of them. If you're mediating a conflict, then you should pay equal attention to both people. Let each person spend about the same amount of time speaking and make points that support both people instead of just focusing on one person or the other. Maintain a neutral expression, and try not to look put off or skeptical if one person is stating something you don't agree with at all. 5.
Be a calming force. One of your primary tasks is to help both people keep their cool. Manage their stress levels, their anger, and their emotions to the best of your ability. If someone is getting too heated, raising his or her voice, and getting visibly angry or upset, take a five-minute break or ask that person to take a few deep breaths and wait until he or she can speak calmly. You can only find a solution if both people stay calm and can see clearly. If the conversation is not going down a constructive path, and both people have resorted to name calling and cursing and just criticizing each other back and forth without getting anywhere, then you should intervene and get the...
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