Conflicts occur in every situation in life. It can be a misunderstanding between friends, different opinions on a topic at work or if agreements were not made properly. Our tips will help you to defuse difficult situations and find suitable solutions!
Conflict resolution: why is it important?
Disagreements and misunderstandings often lead to conflict. If nothing is done, difficult situations can escalate, longstanding Relationships break up, friendships or employment relationships end. In the worst case it comes to a separation or in the job to the dismissal. Smouldering conflicts can put a great strain on a partnership.
At work, crisis situations have an unfavourable effect on all those involved. Although communication problems can hardly be avoided, they can be eliminated through the correct handling of conflicts and an amicable conflict resolution can be sought. Conflict situations are very complex and are based on different causes. There are therefore different possible solutions for each type of conflict.
Solve conflicts - in 7 steps
Resolving conflicts is not an easy task. Often are emotions in the game, the mood is irritated and long pent-up frustration is discharged. If you want to resolve conflicts or help others to talk about and solve problems, you need empathy, diplomatic skills and patience. A good Conflict Management is the basis of conflict resolution. With the 7-step model, you defuse difficult situations and get the conflicting parties to talk to each other again. The 7 steps in detail:
- Arrange a meeting
- Preparation for the conflict meeting
- give feedback
- review the situation
- Communicate own perception
- seek conflict resolution
- propose solutions
Talk to the people involved in the conflict and arrange a meeting with them. Make sure that the conflict meeting takes place in a quiet environment. This is the most important prerequisite for an undisturbed discussion about the problem.
The preparation for the meeting is as important as the meeting itself. Prepare yourself, collect arguments and deal with the question of what this conflict is actually about. What could be the reasons why it has come to this? What topics do you want to address and what would you rather not talk about?
As a coach you focus on your perception when you lead a conflict conversation. Even if you want to solve your own conflicts, it is important to remain objective and avoid the personal level. Give your counterpart feedback. This way you avoid misunderstandings and at the same time you know that you have received all important information.
Reviewing the situation is an important step in a conflict conversation. Summarise the most important facts again and make sure that you have correctly identified the problem. Share your own perception with the other person and point out possible solutions to the conflict.
At the end of the meeting, solutions are proposed and further actions are determined together with the conflict parties. As a coach, you make concrete proposals and support your discussion partners in finding an amicable solution. When solving conflicts, the goal is always to reach an agreement and not to win.
Often a single conversation is not enough to sort out problems. Holding a conflict conversation is also a challenge for the coach. Staying in conversation with each other increases the chance that resolving conflicts is possible. In any case, the conversation opens up new perspectives that can bring you further in your personal development.
What types of conflict are there?
There are many different reasons for communication problems and disagreements. Therefore, there is no single, specific conflict, but different types of conflict. Examples of conflicts are:
- Relationship conflicts
- Role conflicts
- Conflicts of fact
- Distribution conflicts
- Conflicts of perception
- Conflicting goals
Role conflicts often occur in a professional context. In every company the roles are clearly defined. The company hierarchy also plays a major role in the distribution of roles. If an employee feels unfairly treated or is not considered for a promotion, a role conflict arises.
Conflicts of fact
In factual conflicts, the focus is on a matter rather than a person. Thus, disagreements about how certain tasks should be done often lead to conflicts on the factual level. As a rule, a factual conflict can be resolved quickly.
Distribution conflicts mainly take place in the workplace. They arise when the working conditions or the distribution of tasks in the team are perceived as unfair. This conflict can intensify when colleagues are perceived to be better off.
Conflicts of perception
Our perception is individual and differs from the perception of other people. The cause of a conflict of perception is the different evaluation of the situation, which leads to disagreements and disputes between the parties involved.
Conflicts of objectives often arise between superiors and employees and are based on a different perception of objectives or expectations.
Personal and relationship conflicts
Personal conflicts and relationship conflicts represent the largest part of possible conflicts. They occur particularly often and are usually difficult to manage. A relationship is about feelings. There is a certain potential for conflict in every partnership. Different views of life and different interests can promote discord and disputes.
Solving private conflicts can take a lot of time. A factual discussion is not always possible. Personal conflicts affect the entire personality of those involved. A lot of tact is needed so that difficult situations do not escalate and lead to the end of a relationship. It is important to simply listen and let the other person finish.
Conflicts in the workplace
Workplace conflicts are particularly sensitive, as problems in the workplace can affect cooperation and, in extreme cases, lead to dismissal. Avoiding conflicts is hardly possible. Where many people work together, disagreements are commonplace. A small misunderstanding can develop into serious problems.
Conflicts in the workplace have a negative impact on the working atmosphere. Motivation and willingness to perform are closely related to the working atmosphere. Conflict resolution is therefore very important in the company. Only if it is ensured that problems are discussed and solutions are found for conflicts, employees can concentrate on their tasks.
How do you recognize a conflict?
If you want to resolve conflicts, you should know how to recognize difficult situations early on. The earlier you become aware of a possible conflict, the greater the chance that the problem will be solved or at least defused.
Often the reason for the dispute turns out to be a misunderstanding. The conflict can be resolved through a conversation. Typical conflict signals by which you can recognize that something is brewing are:
- Communication is avoided
- Information is withheld
- Unfactual criticism
- Tense atmosphere
- Listlessness and frustration
- Unfriendly or hostile behaviour
- Teasing and open quarrel
These signals can be indications of emerging conflicts. However, there may also be other causes behind it. You can find out if it is really a conflict by addressing the issue openly.
Conspicuous or changed behaviour usually indicates problems. Ask consciously if you notice that people around you are changing and behaving differently towards you than before.
How do conflicts arise in the first place?
Solving conflicts is only possible if we understand why conflict situations arise in the first place. Often a conflict develops insidiously. It is noticeable from the underlying tension that something is not right. The problems remain unspoken until the conflict suddenly escalates.
Communication problems are often the cause of conflicts. A small misunderstanding develops into a serious dispute. In a partnership, increasing disinterest of one partner is often the reason for a relationship conflict.
Conflicts in the workplace can arise due to unequal distribution of tasks, preferential treatment of important projects, jealousies between colleagues or a lack of information flow. When different values and expectations clash, conflicts are inevitable.
The different stages of a conflict
It only takes a small thing to trigger a conflict. An unfriendly look or a wrong remark is enough to ignite an argument. The Austrian conflict researcher Friedrich Glasl has succeeded in using a phase model the different stages of escalation of a conflict to describe. Thus, a conflict is said to pass through nine stages from its inception to its escalation. These are:
- Polarization and debate
- Actions instead of words
- Concern about image and formation of a coalition
- Loss of face
- threats and counterthreats
- Annihilation Strikes
- Total confrontation
Frequent disagreements form the basis of the conflict that is slowly brewing. Each party to the conflict is convinced that they are right and tries to convince the other of their opinion. In the process, disagreement arises, which builds up to conflict.
In the next phase, the conflict situation intensifies and the talks are broken off. No more consideration is given to the interlocutor. The individual conflict parties look for allies who represent their opinion and portray the conflict partner negatively. They accuse each other of wrongdoing and insist on being in the right.
Unilateral demands do not allow for conflict resolution. There are hardly any options for action because the fronts are hardened. How can conflicts be solved? Quite simply: by signalling a willingness to talk, approaching the conflict partner openly and looking for a solution together!
How conflicts influence our feelings and our actions
Smoldering conflicts burden us psychologically and physically. We feel depressed when we cannot resolve the relationship conflict. Workplace conflicts can trigger anxiety and increase stress. Conflict also has a big impact on our actions. Confrontations change what we want. We feel compelled to assert our interests and ignore our counterpart.
Conflicts that you experience in your private or professional life can change your emotional life. Negative feelings that have become entrenched through frequent arguments with your partner are difficult to resolve. In conflict situations you react emotionally. Your perception is clouded and your view of things becomes more one-sided. Relationship conflicts plunge us into emotional chaos.
Decision-making options do not seem to exist. How do you pronounce conflict? Talking is the key word! If you want to resolve conflict privately, you need to stay in conversation with your partner. A clarifying conversation is the best way to resolve disagreements and overcome conflict situations.
Resolve conflicts in an objective manner
Resolving conflicts objectively may sound difficult at first. However, factual conflict resolution is the method that promises the most success. With the help of a conflict resolution checklist you work through the individual steps to resolve conflict situations:
The participants talk about the problem. Everyone describes things from their own point of view, says what they perceive and what feelings arise. These statements should be formulated as first-person messages, for example: I have the impression, I feel this way, in my opinion....
Conflicts conceal different needs and interests. In a conflict discussion, these needs may be perceived and addressed. The discussion partners formulate wishes as to how the conflict can be resolved.
The aim is to resolve a conflict amicably. A solution must therefore be found that does justice to all parties involved. After a proposed solution has been found and accepted, the criteria are now jointly determined as to how the conflict resolution can be put into practice.
Developing solutions together
When solving conflicts, all participants are allowed to make suggestions. Now it is a matter of reviewing and evaluating the solutions. Is the solution realistic? Are all conflict partners satisfied with it or does someone feel disadvantaged? Whether a solution acceptable to all can be worked out also depends on the negotiating flexibility of the conflict parties.
Finally, the solution agreed upon by all is bindingly accepted. In the professional sphere, the decision taken can be recorded in writing. In private life, the written form is only customary in the event of separation or divorce.
What is a positive conflict culture?
Conflicts are part of life and cannot be avoided. Nevertheless, problems must not be swept under the carpet. There are various conflict resolution methods that have proven themselves in practice. A positive conflict culture helps to defuse conflict situations and find solutions.
Pay attention to the following rules of conduct:
- Listen attentively
- Put yourself in the position of the conflict partner
- Do not try to educate other people
- Represent your point of view
- Mutual respect is important
- Stay calm and contribute to de-escalation
An adventure that changes your life
We hope that we have been able to give you an understanding of many important aspects of conflict resolution in this article. It is definitely a complex task that requires sensitivity and diplomacy. In our Greator coach training you will learn step by step different skills and methods that will help you to solve conflicts and improve relationships. Find out more about our Coaching training. Let go of fears, follow your vision, and embark on an adventure that will change your life.