Tips for dealing with conflict

Conflict happens to all of us in some shape or form from time to time.  Whether in our personal lives or at work, minor or major, with one person or many – it’s lurking out there.  Luckily, each and every one of us has some amount of control and choice in resolving conflict.  This is not always an easy feat and at times can feel downright exhausting.  However, if you can apply and keep the following tips in mind when dealing with conflict, you might just find yourself in a better place than where you started.

  1. Manage Your Emotions – By staying grounded, you will be better equipped to handle versus react to the emotions of others.
  2. Listen First – Other parties may be much more willing to listen to you if you’ve done the same for them.
  3. Do Not Blame – It is important that you clearly state your position and what needs to be resolved, but it should be communicated in a non-blaming fashion.
  4. Don’t Start with a Solution – Start by identifying the problem and all parties’ needs.
  5. Take Care of Yourself – If you are ill or lacking sleep, it may be best for you and those involved to deal with the conflict at a better time.
  6. Agree on Where and When – Get out of the office, take a walk or meet at a neutral site.
  7. Prepare Ahead of Time – Answer the questions:  1) What’s important for me to discuss?, 2) Do I need to complete any research?, and 3) What needs must be met?
  8. Come up with More than One Solution – Alternate solutions merged with other solutions just might wind up being the “best” solution.
  9. Determine the Needs of the Underlying Issue – These are the motivating qualities and values that influence the positions we take.
  10. Focus on the Problem, Not the Person – Ask them to collaborate on how to move forward and avoid similar conflicts in the future.

If you are having a hard time resolving a particular conflict or don’t know where to start, there are resources to help.  Depending on the type of conflict, you may want to consider talking to your supervisor or the Human Resources Office.  Furthermore, the Employee Assistance Program, a benefit designed for you and your eligible family members, offers a variety of resources from in-person appointments to website tools.  For more information, call (515) 244-6090 or visit their website at http://www.efr.org/wps/eap and enter employee sign in code 223771.