Conflicts are one of the most frequent human related occurrences. When people deal with other people there is some level of interdependency concerning achieving one’s goals. This leads to potential conflict. The level of interdependency usually matches the conflict risk.
Because it is such a common occurrence, people should and need to be better trained in how to resolve conflicts, especially what NOT to do to escalate the conflict.
Most people continually make the similar fatal mistakes dealing with conflicts whether personal or professional. Natural conflict behavior aligns with basic human tendencies and repeat the same mistakes over and over again. Conflicts can expose our less rational side so conflict handling becomes conflict mishandling.
As humans, we are disposed to conflict. It may become difficult to change or even notice behavior during a conflict. Our less rational side can then take over and blur our thinking: and once again, we repeat these fatal conflict resolutions mistakes.
Over the years of training and consulting about conflicts and negotiations, I've noticed a trend for the many common mistakes. Learning from these prevalent mistakes will aid you in handling your daily conflicts.
We can all get on the defensive, especially when we feel our views are threatened. Think about the last time you were involved in conflict. When your point of view was threatened or contradicted, what was your reaction, your natural human reaction? You may have felt compelled to ‘answer back’ or defend your view. Someone has done or said something that contradicted your point of view and you feel the need to defend. Naturally, you are now on the defensive. This begins the vicious cycle, as the other party involves may feel that same desire to 'answer back'.
There must be a better way on how to resolve conflicts? Being aware of this natural desire to answer back is an important step, yet not enough as. You will need to expand upon this awareness and take action to grow your restraint for answering back. This is where life’s lessons come into play. You must remember the consequences you have paid in the past for this answering back habit. It’s a simple method of thinking before acting or speaking. You will soon be motivated to refrain from taking too swift of actions in defending your point of view.
Create yourself a 'support group'.
Another phenomenon people get caught up in once in a conflict retaliation cycle is to invite others in the conflict for support. People call their friends to share the story which usually starts out something like. ‘You won’t believe the gall of some people’. We get a false sense of comfort and righteousness as our friends are inclined to support our point of view – sympathize with us – taking our accountability and responsibility away. Without taking responsibility, whether it's indeed the other side's fault or that you have just a little bit to do with the outbreak of the conflict, things are at a standstill, each side waiting for the other to take the initiative.
How to resolve the conflict? The suggestion is not to refrain from social engagement or to stop seeking encouragement from family and friends, it's the quest for consent that you should elude. Ask for the help to keep a laser focus on your goals rather than to simply and blindly support your point of view. Ask for their support in a more positive way, where they can show empathy without blindly supporting your point of view. This method allows you the support you desire, while not blinding you for taking any needed action.
Losing sight of personal goals
The mixture of answering back and creating a support group often results in losing sight of the original personal goals. The conflict gains momentum due to the attention you're feeding it and, because you focus your attention on the conflict, losing sight of your personal goals in eminent. The irony is that people involved in a conflict believe that their behavior is on track to achieve their goals but that behavior is usually sabotaging them.
How to resolve the conflict? In order to keep yourself focused on your own goals you need not only to learn these new habits but also to learn how to correctly define your goals. Any goal articulated as a 'how' in not a goal but a mean to an end. The result is the goal, the ‘how’ is the method. For more clarification, enroll in a good conflict resolution skills course as it's one of the most important conflict management skills.
Clinging to 'I'm right – he/she is wrong' perception
Recall the last conflict you were involved in. You'll notice that if the conflict stayed active for enough, even a matter of minutes, you've slid into the blame game or a 'it's his/her fault' perception. This self conviction is strengthened by your support group who tends to accept your point of view as true, or at the least take your side. The more you feel you're right and the other side is wrong, the more trapped you are because a sacrifice state of mind. That is where you end up when you don’t take accountability and transfer the responsibility to someone else Sacrifice state of mind – playing the 'blame game' - eradicates consequential thinking. Without Consequential thinking no positive action is possible so you are left with your righteousness while all goals lose focus.
How to resolve the conflict? When you find yourself on the brink of already in an accusing state of mind, stop to assess your goals. Your goals will serve as a beacon to light the path in order to correct your course of action. One that will take you to your desired goals. As I've said before, correct goal setting is an essential conflict management skill.
Refraining from acquiring conflict resolution skills
A research study from about 20 years ago revealed that managers spend about 42% of their working time dealing with conflict. I believe this number represents the same trend today. If you have a child living in your household, you may notice the similarity between managers and parents with respect to the amount of time you spend dealing with conflict.
Even if the research numbers appear bloated, and we estimate only 20% of our time managing conflict, it's still a L-O-T of time spent on conflict. The object we must learn how to better deal with. It is a part of life that does not need to be negative.
How to resolve the conflict? Many people won't take the initiative to attend conflict resolution training. Why? Most people tend to avoid conflict and confrontation because they are unpleasant. The cost of conflict, in both the personal and professional lives, is grave if not resolved with your goals in mind. Conflicts do not disappear on their own, they can fester if voided, explode if ignored.
Reading this post and simply agreeing will keep you well in your comfort zone, while taking responsibility and action will set you back on course. Begin by using any of the above suggestions – Take it upon yourself to implement positive change. You will be more likely to reach your goals you will find that it is well worth the effort.
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