Conflict Resolution – What to do When it Just Isn’t Working

photo by Katie Tegtmeyer

photo by Katie Tegtmeyer

Partnership is great, but what do you do when you hit a rough patch?  Use these tips and suggestions to help resolve conflicts in your organization.

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We have written in the past about the benefits of partnership and collaboration to your organization. Seeking out others who have different backgrounds and experiences, different strengths and weaknesses, a different way of thinking about things is good.  It shows us alternate perspectives and requires us to consider different points of view.  Often times those shifts in thinking can cause a burst of collaborative ideas which lead to true greatness.

However, we also know that sometimes working with a partner can present some challenges too.

Even when both partners begin with the best of intentions, sometimes things can go awry.  Getting back on track can take some effort and patience but it will all be worth it in the end.

How to handle a disagreement

When resolving a conflict, consider these tips and suggestions:

  • One of our mantras at the Big Change Project is that it often matters less what you say, but more how you say it.  Be thoughtful about the words you choose and be cognizant of your tone of voice and body language, especially in conflict, because it can be absolutely critical in how your message will be received.
  • It is important to address concerns and issues before they fester too long and take on a life of their own.  Don’t let things go so long that feelings are hurt and relationship are damaged, to the point of frustration that is hard to get beyond.
  • LISTEN!!!  Listen to others (really listen, not the kind of listening where instead you are thinking about what you are going to say as soon as they stop talking) and listen to yourself – how are you saying what you’re saying?
  • Honor others – respect their thoughts, feeling and ideas.  Be considerate and thoughtful.  Recognize that they have a different point of view.
  • Use “I” statements – talk about how you feel or what you are experiencing instead of focusing on what you feel they are “doing.”  It can diffuse some of the defensiveness and help to keep the conversation productive.  Be sure that you stay open-minded when it is their turn to tell you of their feelings and experiences.
  • Be open and willing to change your mind.
  • Try to motivate others to join you through encouragement, respect and positive feedback, rather than through guilt, frustration and anger.
  • As your mother always told you, “COMPROMISE.”  It truly is the key to all things.  Work with others to find some common ground.
  • Make the relationship your priority, not your agenda.  Work to support and honor the relationship and the rest will come.
  • Sometimes creativity is the solution.  Open your mind, encourage others to open theirs, and see if you can find a creative solution that everyone can feel good about.

Once you have discussed your concerns and worked to create a shared solution, be sure that you follow through – do what you say that you are going to do.  Without “walking the walk,” others will not be able to trust in your word.  Offer up words of encouragement and positive feedback when the team is working together toward an agreed upon solution or goal.

Working collaboratively can be one of the most rewarding experiences there is, but sometimes there’s a bump in the road.  Don’t let your bump turn into a full-on multi-car pile-up by keeping an open mind, respecting others around you, being aware of your own actions, and truly believing in the benefits of different points of view.

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