Ah, conflict – we deal with it every day. But what if we could make it productive and helpful? I believe the key is in the “art” of how we navigate the conflict. If we just attack the other person, it will not be helpful for anybody. If, however, we use certain techniques to address our disagreements in a healthy way, conflict can be a game-changing tool.

Stick to the facts.

I can’t stress this one enough. “You’re always late” is probably not a fact, and will just elicit defensiveness; the natural response to that is “No, I’m not.” Instead, try starting with indisputable specifics, such as: “Yesterday, our meeting started at 8:00am and you walked in at 8:30.” If that is in fact what happened, you have started your discussion on the same equal terms and can continue with why you are bringing this up.

Own your contribution to the problem.

We may not want to look inwardly when we have a problem to discuss about someone else, but remember you are the one you have control over. You can’t control the other person. Could you have been a little more clear in your expectations? Could you have sent a reminder? Whatever it is, owning up to any contribution you made works wonders for the other person’s frame of mind and willingness to listen to you.

Focus on common goals.

Perhaps you’re interested in getting a task completed, and the other party is interested in a high-quality product that may take longer. If you’re butting heads, what about looking for common ground? What do you both want? If you both desire to impress the client, you could focus on finding out what matters most to the client and act accordingly. Focusing on that common goal will shift the spotlight off of your disagreement with each other and allow you to tackle the problem together.

Listen completely to their side before responding.

If you’ve ever read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you may recall this principle: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” This principle is key for all disagreements. People listen when they feel heard first, and you’re more likely to influence them when you yourself are influenceable. Take some time to hear their side and really consider it — making sure you fully understand their perspective — before you respond to it.

These tips are just the beginning! If you’re interested in learning more, I’d love to speak to you or your group about navigating difficult conversations. Contact me so we can chat about your needs.

Do you have other tips to add? Feel free to share in the comments! I’m here to learn from you, too.

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