Positive Conflict Resolution

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Confrontation oftentimes has a negative connotation attached to it. Just the word alone sends shivers down our spines. However, the older I get the less I understand the concept of a “non-confrontational” attitude. Problems don’t just magically disappear when you ignore them. In fact, as you may have come to realize it escalates and turns molehills into mountains.

Confrontation does not need to disintegrate in a negative or derogatory fashion. It IS possible to positively confront an individual you are having a disagreement with. In a previous post, Building Positive Communication Habits, I stated that communication is the foundation to all human relationships. The method in which you choose to engage in a confrontation is a visible representation of your communication abilities whatever they may be.

So how do you “positively” deal with confrontation? There is no easy answer. It all depends on the individual you are attempting to resolve a conflict with. However, here are a few ways you can potentially direct a confrontation into a more positive conversation.

  1. Feel, then Deal - Understand your feelings first. Don’t ever confront a situation or person when emotions are high - that oftentimes leads to pettiness and lack of empathy. When you can control your emotions and get to the root of the problem it is easier to address.

  2. Speak to your boss/HR - If the conflict your are experiencing is in the workplace let your manager or HR person know. Let them know that you are having a problem but you would like to attempt to resolve it on your own first before asking them to mediate. Letting your manager/HR person know ahead of time isn’t being a “snitch.” It’s preparing them for a situation in case it escalates rather than popping out of nowhere.

  3. Practice - Be clear and concise. Choose your words carefully and address one issue at a time so there is no room for confusion.

  4. Pick the right time and place - Do NOT air your dirty laundry in public. Bad news travels fast (especially in the workplace.) Once you’ve sufficiently dealt with your emotions, ask this person to quietly if they are available to have a conversation with you. If the issue is between you and your partner - disagree in safe spaces. Johnathon and I have agreed to never argue in the bedroom. That is our safe space - we try to keep our arguments in the office.

  5. Be Empathetic - Oftentimes confrontation is born out of a misunderstanding. Be patient and have empathy. You are asking them to listen to you so listen to them and give them your undivided attention.

  6. Agree on a Conflict Resolution - Model flexibility and be prepared to compromise. Everyone needs to come away from the situation with the comfort that they’ve been heard. Come up with a realistic action plan and feel free to review so there are no further misunderstandings.

What are some of your rules/steps to positively dealing with confrontation?

Let me know in the comment section below!