Simple Steps for Effective Conflict ResolutionFeb 18, 2022
Facing conflicts, personally or professionally, is inevitable. No matter how sensitive you may be towards others’ feelings, others may not necessarily share the same sentiment.
You may ask WHY are people like this?
People degrade and demean others due to their low self-esteem. They do this in an attempt to cover up their incompetencies and weaknesses. The only way to keep their ego afloat and image boosted is by finding faults and criticizing others, as this gives them the feeling of empowerment; but when confronted they are never ready to admit what they are wrong.
How we respond to such people is up to us; however, it may be helpful to be assertive and straightforward with such people. The one mistake we should not make is to consider their persistent refusal to admit they're wrong as a sign of strength because it is the absolute opposite —it’s their psychological weakness and fragility.
The mundane advice we get when we finally decide to confront them is: ‘Don’t make it about them instead make it about yourself so that the other person doesn’t get defensive.’
Well, the unspoken truth is this kind of conversation will only make you more vulnerable. Yes, if you're too upfront and tell the person “YOU did this wrong, YOU are responsible for this, YOU never listen…” the listener will definitely get angry and defensive. This approach will not resolve the conflict; instead, it will escalate it and make things worse.
So we need to be tactful and look for other ways of dealing with conflicts at the workplace and in our personal life.
Generally, there are three perspectives in which any conflict is viewed.
Through this perspective people talk about themselves by saying: How I felt when you spoke like that to me, my feelings were hurt etc… Making it all about yourself and your feelings will only disempower you and give more power to the other person. Unknowingly, you have given him/her the authority to hurt you and the message that he/she has complete control over when and how to make you feel miserable.
People using the first person approach become the prey and put the other person in the position of the predator by letting him/her know how successfully his motives are achieved.
In this one you make the person sit on the hot seat and tell him/her YOU mishandled the situation, because of YOU things have been ruined and so on…
This approach will only make things worse and escalate the situation instead of resolving it.
So we need to look through a different perspective (a better perspective).
Here you talk about situations and not about yourself ( I ) or the other person (YOU). Through this approach, you will set boundaries without giving the person a chance to get defensive and escalate the matter.
Let’s take a Personal Life example:
One lady always comments on your dress and appearance, your color choices, your cooking skills, and your parenting style during social gatherings. You may respond to such annoying people in any of the following ways:
- Either say: I’m not looking for feedback.
- Or ask questions: Why do I always get feedback on what I cook or how I dress?
Such responses will shift the focus on the situation and won’t make it about YOU.
Remember, whatever answer you get, don't take them personally and think to yourself that this other person needs help.
Here’s another example of a conflict at the workplace:
There may be a co-worker who's good at stealing ideas and presenting them as their own. In this type of situation you take the following steps:
- Have a private conversation with him/her.
- Ask: Was it really your idea? Well, it wasn’t. Why does it happen consistently that my ideas are shared by you?
- Make it clear that it would be better if everyone spoke for themselves and shared their own ideas.
- Finally, bring the conversation from 3rd person to the 2nd person to end the conversation and to make your stance clear. Say for example; Don’t ever do that again. If it’s my idea, I will speak.
- Be very clear with what you will do if this kind of behavior is repeated. Take a strong stance and be firm. Your coworker will get the hidden message in your tone.
REMEMBER: Whatever the situation may be NEVER make it about yourself, about how you feel(first person). It should start with the situation (third person) and gradually bring it to them (second person) so the message is understood loud and clear.