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When Conflict Strikes: 5 Steps to Defuse It

  • Posted by: Ellen Kandell

Conflict is inevitable between human beings. Keep these 5 tips in mind to reduce its impact and even grow from the experience. 

1.    Deal with the conflict immediately. Call a meeting or arrange for a dialogue. Unattended conflict can get worse. And then it might be too late, too much damage has occurred for the relationship to be salvaged.

2.    Listen openly without any agenda.  Clear away assumptions and narratives about “the other”. Listen with fresh ears and new eyes.

3.    Acknowledge feelings and emotions.  Simply recognizing how a colleague or team mate is feeling goes a long way to resolving their concerns and turns down the heat of the moment. People won’t be willing to change their behavior unless their feelings are recognized.

4.    No back-channel communications. Create a culture of open dialogue where people feel safe to raise issues of concern.

5.    Ask “how can we grow from this conflict?” See conflict as a learning opportunity, a time to make some small changes or to learn about another person’s perspective. It’s hard, messy and difficult but it’s a catalyst for change. 

Unresolved conflicts reduce your organization’s effectiveness and efficiency, harm the organization or team’s overall performance and hurt your public reputation. Keep these 5 techniques top of mind because you know conflicts will arise.

Ellen F. Kandell is a certified professional mediator and attorney with over 30 years of public and private sector experience.  An expert in dispute resolution and mediation, Ms. Kandell is certified by the International Mediation Institute. She has been a leader in the Montgomery County Bar Association and the Maryland Council for Dispute Resolution. She provides mediation services, group facilitation, neutral evaluation and training todiverse, national clients. Get in touch with her via emailLinkedInTwitter, or give her a call at 301-588-5390.

Author: Ellen Kandell

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