Three Strategies to Effectively Manage Conflict

I never fully understood how much of an influence my upbringing had on my adult life. I see my mom as my mentor. She has this assertiveness that I have always admired, and she wasn’t the type to keep her opinions to herself. Especially when it came to me, she was clear about her expectations of where she thought my life should be heading. So basically, my life was neatly planned out for me, with a significant, bold “Medical Doctor” destination marker. It seemed like that was the route I was supposed to take, and my mom made sure everyone knew it. But, one day, I realized that I was the one who should be deciding what I wanted to do with my life.
It’s funny how long it can take to realize such a simple realization, right? I used to think I was so afraid of conflict that saying no to my mom’s expectations was out of the question. But then, I had to ask myself, “Why?” Why was I so scared of a bit of conflict when it meant pursuing my dreams and forging my path? Eventually, it became clear that I never really dared to disagree with her or stand my ground. It wasn’t so much that I was afraid of conflict but more that I’d never been exposed to it.

1) Stay calm and collected.

Keeping your cool can be easier said than done, especially in the heat of a conflict. But let me tell you, maintaining your composure can make all the difference. See, the thing is, when you react in the heat of the moment, it’s often driven by those unhelpful emotions, and that rarely leads to productive conflict resolution. Here’s a little trick I’ve learned: when things get tense, take a deep breath. It sounds simple, but it can give you the mental space you need to respond thoughtfully.

Count to ten – The next time you feel the heat of a disagreement rising, try the simple yet powerful practice of counting to ten and taking deep breaths. When you sense that tension building, pause for a moment. Inhale deeply and count slowly to ten in your head as you exhale. Repeat this process a couple of times until you feel yourself regaining composure. This might sound like a small, almost trivial exercise, but it can have a powerful impact on how you navigate conflicts.

2) Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

When I found myself in situations where my life’s path was seemingly set in stone, I understood just how essential active listening can be. It means tuning in to what the other person is saying without immediately planning your response. Then, you let them have their say and summarize what they’ve said to make sure you got it right. This simple act shows that you genuinely care about their perspective, and it can go a long way in making others feel heard and understood.

Be present and listen – The next time you find yourself in a conversation, especially during a disagreement or conflict, make a conscious effort to listen actively. Challenge yourself to ask open-ended questions to delve deeper into their thoughts and feelings. Show that you value what they’re saying and genuinely want to understand their point of view. It might feel a bit challenging initially, but practicing active listening can be a game-changer in your relationships and conflict-resolution skills.

3) Find common ground.

As I decided to follow my own path, it was all too easy to view my mom as an adversary. But, when you both have a common goal or understanding, finding a solution that genuinely works for everyone becomes much easier. In my own experience, it transformed our conversations when I transitioned from seeing my mom’s expectations as a roadblock to realizing that we both ultimately wanted what was best for me. We began to identify common ground, and that common understanding opened doors to finding a middle ground that respected both her dreams for me and my own aspirations.

Find the common goal – The next time you find yourself in a disagreement or conflict, make it your mission to identify shared interests or goals. Look beyond the surface differences and explore what you both value. It might take some digging, but trust me, it’s worth it. Once you’ve identified that common ground, use it as a starting point for finding a solution that works for everyone involved. One way to find commonalities is to take the test DRiV for free to learn more about your co-worker’s energy drivers and drainers.

I had to accept that conflict is just a natural part of life. But the funny thing is, for the longest time, I had no clue that there were actual strategies to handle these conflicts in a way that didn’t end in chaos. These strategies aren’t about winning battles or trying to get your way; they’re more about building common understanding and finding solutions for everyone involved. When you find yourself in a conflict, it’s easy to slip into fight-or-flight mode, but here are three things you can do to steer toward a successful resolution.

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