5 Tips for Handling Conflicts

Misunderstandings and conflicts can happen between any two people. Having different ideas about how to solve a problem or what to do in a situation is part of what makes each of us unique as a person, but those differences also may create conflict.

When a conflict arises, talk it over with the individual. You may both learn and grow from working together to resolve a conflict. You may be able to improve your relationship and gain increased respect and trust for one another. How you choose to talk with the other person can make a big difference. Here are some tips for handling conflicts:

Choose an appropriate time for the discussion.

When you are in the middle of an emotional situation, it may not be the best time to discuss it. Choose a time when both of you are calm and not under stress. Complete tasks that need immediate attention and talk afterward.

Be clear about what you want to accomplish.

Do you need to make a request, express feelings and clear up a misunderstanding or find out why the person reacted a certain way to something you did? Explain what you want early in the discussion to keep the other person from having to guess about the purpose. Mistaken assumptions can make the situation worse.

Begin with something positive to show your goodwill toward the other person.

Setting the stage for positivity is one of the best tips for handling conflicts. If you say, “I really enjoy working with you, and I’m sure we can clear up this problem if we talk it over,” you set a positive tone for the rest of the conversation. Be honest – try to find something positive that you can say honestly and from your heart. An insincere compliment may make the situation worse.

Use “I” statements when talking about feelings.

This is one of the best tips for handling conflicts. Own up to your feelings. Rather than saying “You made me upset when you forgot to leave the key out for me,” say “I got upset when you forgot to leave the key out.” Speaking in a manner that takes ownership for your own feelings is a more neutral way to point out a problem. Accepting ownership also offers more opportunity to resolve a situation rather than placing blame on the other person.

Speak to the other person with respect.

Do not speak in a tone that sounds like you feel superior. Be clear that you are expressing an opinion rather than telling the person what and how to think.


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