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Conflict Resolution Mistakes To AVOID By Elizabeth Scott Updated October 28, 2011
Conventional wisdom (and research) says that good communication can improve relationships, increasing intimacy, trust, and support. The converse is also true: poor communication can weaken bonds, creating mistrust and even contempt! Here are some examples of negative and even destructive attitudes and communication patterns that can exacerbate conflict in a relationship. How many of these sound like something you’d do?
Rather than discussing building frustrations in a calm, respectful manner, some people just don’t say anything to their partner until they’re ready to explode, and then blurt it out in an angry, hurtful way. This seems to be the less stressful route–avoiding an argument altogether–but usually causes more stress to both parties as tensions rise, resentments fester, and a much bigger argument eventually results. It’s much healthier to address and resolve conflict. These assertive communication skills can help you to say things in a way where you will be more likely to be heard, without being disrespectful to the other person.
Rather than addressing a partner’s complaints with an objective eye and willingness to understand the other person’s point of view, defensive people steadfastly deny any wrongdoing and work hard to avoid looking at the possibility that they could be contributing to a problem. Denying responsibility may seem to alleviate stress in the short run, but creates long-term problems when partners don’t feel listened to and unresolved conflicts and continue to grow.
When something happens that they don’t like, some blow it out of proportion by making sweeping generalizations. Avoid starting sentences with, “You always,” and, “You never,” as in, “You always come home late!” or, “You never do what I want to do!” Stop and think about whether or not this is really true. Also, don’t bring up past conflicts to throw the discussion off-topic and stir up more negativity. This stands in the way of true conflict resolution and increases the level of conflict. Sometimes we’re not aware of the ways the mind can blow things out of proportion. This list of common cognitive distortions can get in the way of healthy relationships with others and can exacerbate stress levels. See which ones may be familiar to you.
It’s damaging to decide that there’s a “right” way to look at things and a “wrong” way to look at things, and that your way of seeing things is right. Don’t demand that your partner see things the same way, and don’t take it as a personal attack if they have a different opinion. Look for a compromise or agreeing to disagree, and remember that there’s not always a “right” or a “wrong,” and that two points of view can both be valid.
Instead of asking about their partner’s thoughts and feelings, people sometimes decide that they “know” what their partners are thinking and feeling based only on faulty interpretations of their actions–and always assume it’s negative! (For example, deciding a late mate doesn’t care enough to be on time, or that a tired partner is denying sex out of passive-aggressiveness.) This creates hostility and misunderstandings. It’s important to keep in mind that we all come from a unique perspective, and work hard to assume nothing; really listen to the other person and let them explain where they are coming from.
Some people interrupt, roll their eyes, and rehearse what they’re going to say next instead of truly listening and attempting to understand their partner. This keeps you from seeing their point of view, and keeps your partner from wanting to see yours! Don’t underestimate the importance of really listening and empathizing with the other person! These listening skills are important to bear in mind.
Some people handle conflict by criticizing and blaming the other person for the situation. They see admitting any weakness on their own part as a weakening of their credibility, and avoid it at all costs, and even try to shame them for being “at fault.” Instead, try to view conflict as an opportunity to analyze the situation objectively, assess the needs of both parties, and come up with a solution that helps you both.
I love it when Dr. Phil says that if people are focused on “winning” the argument, the relationship loses! The point of a relationship discussion should be mutual understanding and coming to an agreement or resolution that respects everyone’s needs. If you’re making a case for how wrong the other person is, discounting their feelings, and staying stuck in your point of view, you focused in the wrong direction!
Sometimes people take any negative action from a partner and blow it up into a personality flaw. (For example, if a husband leaves his socks lying around, looking it as a character flaw and label him “inconsiderate and lazy,” or, if a woman wants to discuss a problem with the relationship, labeling her “needy,” “controlling,” or “too demanding.”) This creates negative perceptions on both sides. Remember to respect the person, even if you don’t like the behavior.
When one partner wants to discuss troubling issues in the relationship, sometimes people defensively stonewall, or refuse to talk or listen to their partner. This shows disrespect and, in certain situations, even contempt, while at the same time letting the underlying conflict grow. Stonewalling solves nothing but creates hard feelings and damages relationships. It’s much better to listen and discuss things in a respectful manner.
Image result for fight or flight
The body has automated responses to a conflict called the fight or flight reaction. Extreme conflict triggers can cause someone to want to defend themselves and fight or run away and avoid the situation. Either choice is a “response” to conflict. Depending on the situation, either choice may also be the best choice. However, there are also other ways to respond to conflict.
Understanding how conflict can lead to productivity and help build you both professionally and personally. Watch this video about having a different perspective of the conflict.
Conflict Resolutions to USE by Stephanie Ray, Oct 16, 2018
Before there is any hint of a conflict, you can reduce or even eliminate potential problems by setting a standard of behavior in the workplace. If you give the team the room to define what is and is not appropriate, they will.
However, as a manager, it’s your responsibility to set the tone. You can do this by writing specific job descriptions, creating a framework for how discussions are run, noting the hierarchy and who is responsible for what, defining proper business practices, choosing which project management tools to use, helping with team building and leadership development, etc. The more you set the guidelines, the better the team can follow them.
Depending on the type of person and manager you are, there are several ways you might respond to conflict in the workspace. For one, you could ignore it, and let the participants work it out among themselves. This is not always the worst approach. Teams must know how to collaborate, and conflict resolution is one of the tools they’ll need to do that.
However, if you’re avoiding dealing with conflict because it makes you uneasy or because you don’t want to reprimand someone, then that’s a misstep. Of course, it’s your job as the manager to deal with such matters. You have the authority and should act when it is called for. Not to do so only gives the conflict legs on which to carry itself to a confrontation that will have an even worse impact on business.
One of the first steps to diffuse any conflict is to change the environment. People are heated and that anger is often tied to a place. It sounds odd, but just removing the people from the room they’re fighting in will help put the conflict in perspective.
Then, to resolve the conflict, you’ll want to bring the upset individuals to a neutral location. A neutral space will first bring things down to a level in which a constructive conversation can occur. Secondly, by suggesting a meeting in a coffee house, or anywhere outside the office where there isn’t intrinsically a power dynamic, you are more likely to create a comfortable atmosphere where you can productively deal with whatever caused the issue.
After you’ve broken away from the place where the conflict arose, you can address the problem. But you don’t want to jump right into a conversation with an accusatory tone. Your job is to hear all sides and make an executive decision based on the facts and the needs of the work being done. Therefore, to get a person comfortable enough to talk, start by complimenting them. You want to show that there is no bad guy or good guy here. You’re attacking the problem, not the person.
The reasons for any conflict are often more complex than they first appear. In order to be just in your treatment of all parties involved, it is advised not to conclude anything at the offset. Even if you think the conflict is obvious, give everyone an opportunity to share their perspective. Get a sense of the history involved. You don’t want to assume anything about anyone. Gather your facts like a quiet detective, and then weigh in with the wisdom of a judge.
While some conflicts are going to require consequences, most are just sparked by passionate people coming at a situation from different vantage points. The truth is that when conflicts arise, so does the opportunity to teach or learn. Being a manager is seeing these conflicts as a means to address what was previously hidden problems within the team dynamics.
Another thing to think about as you address conflict in your workforce is not jumping to just righting the wrong. What that means is there could be an obvious reason for the conflict and a similarly clear way to get people back on the same page working productively.
You’re leading the group, not taking sides in their arguments. It’s best if you can get the team to work together to resolve the conflict. That means taking more time to guide them to the conclusion you see, but they’re too emotionally involved to notice.
In any conflict there are a multitude of approaches, some more critical than others. But sometimes things are plainly wrong, and criticism is the only valid way to deal with it. Be that as it may, the people you’re criticizing are the same people you’ll be working with tomorrow and next week and so forth. So, how do you criticize without embittering, so you can still effectively lead?
That’s where constructive criticism comes in. It’s an approach that allows you to address the issue and lay blame, but also support the good work that was done. You offer guidance, so that the problem can be fixed. The team now has the tools to avoid repeating it, and no one is resentful.
As a manager, you’re in a position of authority. Don’t abuse it. It might seem like the simple fix to coerce the correct course, but that is not thinking in the long term. The team never learns anything from this but to fear you, which means they won’t confide in you when something starts going wrong, leaving you in the dark until the issue is possibly beyond repair. So, take the time to work through your conflict resolution in such a way that it doesn’t pop up again the next day.
Remember, you want to put the time into conflict resolution to do it right. But once you have gone through that process, then it’s time to act, and you should do so decisively.
Don’t let the decision wait and leave the team lingering. It sets a bad precedent in terms of your leadership. You’re leaving a void at the top, which will get filled by ideas other than your own, and you may lose the authority you need to lead. So, when you come to a decision, act on it. Some might not like it, but they’ll at least know where you stand.
#1 Come up with a CONFLICT RESOLUTION MANTRA that means something to you and will bring you strength and calmness when dealing with conflict. Make this word(s) or phrase personal to you and try not to copy one that someone has already come up with.
#2 Why did you choose this mantra? What feelings does it provoke?
#3 How can you use this conflict resolution mantra when faced with future conflicts?