10 Tips to Respond to Conflict

Conflict is a fact of life. It is going to happen. So, how can you manage it when it happens? Here are 10 tips that can help you respond to conflict. These tips come from the National Association for Addiction Professionals. Below I will link a few resources that relate to effective communication, anger management, and conflict resolution.

In this post I will share the direct quotes from my conflict training and below I will share my opinion. Please click on the links to read the full training.

"1. Stand still in the moment: Take time to ask yourself whether your response will “build up” “maintain” or “tear down” the relationship. You gain personal power when you take time to plan your response. Gather more information. Lighten the voice tone gestures and intensity of your response."

- Check out this great graphic that explains the T.H.I.N.K. strategy to help you with this tip.

Graphic by Emma-Louise Elsey. Reprinted with permission from "The Launchpad" newsletter and blog - for people who love coaching.

Visit The Coaching Tools Company to learn more.

"2. Never assume intent: Do not jump to any conclusions because you will often be wrong.

Instead, ask the other person to explain his/her intent or what (s)he means by his/her behavior. “Your actions are telling me. Is this correct?”"

- What we assume is based on our individual experiences and actions and another person can a completely different viewpoint so that means that we are not able to make correct assumptions most of the time. It's best to ask.

"3. Dig deeper: Learn more about what is really behind someone’s anger when a conflict occurs. Try to understand what is really at the heart of the conflict. Is it a truly serious matter, or is it possibly a minor issue?"

- Sometimes it is a easy as asking if the person is upset or what has upset them.

"4. Cultivate confusion: You should approach the conflict with confusion so that you can collect more information, keep from making a judgment or blaming another person, and create an opportunity to explore with the other person the nature of the conflict. “I’m confused here. Can you explain more about this?” “This is the way l’m looking at this. Is that what you meant?”"

- Asking open ended questions can make a huge difference! Learn how to here.

"5. The paradox of control: The harder you try to control another person or situation, the less in control you become. Replace controlling behaviors with information gathering, discovery, and collaboration. Ask yourself wl1y you might be pushing for control. Also, ask yourself if trying to control the other person is really going to get mutual respect and agreement."

- We can't really control anyone but ourselves, consequently, it's hardest to control ourselves.

"6. Look for misunderstandings: Recognize that possible misunderstanding can occur. Allow room to start over and say what was meant to be said. Allowing everyone to correct a possible misunderstanding can provide an opportunity to begin again on equal footing."

- Assume that there is a misconception and then look for it. It's the only assumption that can help in the moment.

"7. Have a blameless relationship with yourself: Is it possible that your early family dynamics and system you grew up in impacted the way you handle conflicts now? Do you try to relive that family system now to make sense of it, get it right this time, or finish unfinished business? Tell yourself that even if you grew up within an unhealthy family system, you can learn different ways of handling conflicts now."

- We all learned how to manage conflict differently and some of us didn't learn healthy ways to manage it. The good news is that you can choose to learn new healthy habits now.

"8. Avoid premature forgiveness: When you forgive someone before the conflict is really settled, you may not really share how hurtful the conflict was for you, and you may pass up the opportunity to ask for what you need. In addition, premature forgiveness may keep you from developing a real mutual understanding of the problem and the opportunity to solve it together."

- Sometimes it can seem like forgiving is the way to go to avoid conflict but, avoiding is not a healthy coping mechanism. When there is conflict there is usually a real reason and it is possible to work through it.

"9. Put down your dukes: Do not use defensive, blaming, or controlling behaviors. These behaviors cut off communication and may cover up what you really think or feel."

- When we are angry, it can seem like a good idea to tell people off but, it almost never serves to resolve the problem and it can create more.