Conflict can be defined as “a perceived divergence of interest, or a belief that the parties’ current goals (needs) cannot be achieved simultaneously.” Does that mean conflict is a bad thing? Not necessarily! Conflict has many benefits. It produces change. It builds collaboration. And, it can often lead to better decision making.

There are many things we can do to resolve conflict when it arises; here are a few tips to help make it easier. First, step back and try to think about what is really happening and what it means to you. One of the questions I encourage my audiences to ask is, “What is the LIFETIME value of this event?” The E+R=O equation works well here: Event + Response = Outcome. If you can define the value of an event, you can decide on an acceptable outcome. From there, it is easier to choose an appropriate response – one that is more likely to get you the outcome you want. Too often, we react to events, without thinking of their overall impact on our lives. Most conflict could be avoided completely if we simply analyzed each situation or event, and chose to ignore the ones that had no lifetime value or significance.

Secondly, let the other party or parties know how you perceive this event to be a conflict. Go back to the definition of conflict. Explain your current goals or needs, and ask for clarification on the goals or needs of the other party. Rather than focusing on your differences, focus on what parts of your goals or needs are in common. Work from that common ground and see how you can help each other to meet your needs. This is much more effective than trying to figure out ways to get what you want at each others’ expense.

Third, as you engage in your problem solving dialogue, monitor your non-verbal communication. Non-verbals comprise up to 85% of our overall communication. If you are not careful, you could be sending mixed messages, and inadvertently escalating a conflict situation. Do your best to maintain an open, relaxed posture, manage your facial expressions and hand movements. Also, monitor your tone of voice, the speed, and the pitch. Raising your voice or speaking too quickly will escalate the other party and lead to shouting and elevated emotions.

Finally, remember that conflict is, like anything else, a matter of perception. If you believe in and expect a positive outcome, the likelihood is better that you will get just that. If you expect a conflict situation to become explosive and divisive, then it will. Always take a good attitude to the table, and remember to focus on your outcomes. Seek to resolve conflict with a solution that is fair for both parties.

Remember that if it is about “winning”, then that means someone has to lose. When you seek to resolve conflict with a fair-fair solution, both parties win.

Author's Bio: 

An internationally recognized speaker, and published author, Julie Christiansen brings over 15 years experience in group and individual counseling, to your boardroom. Branded as “Oprah for the Office” by her clients, Julie educates and entertains audiences throughout Canada, the United States, and the Caribbean. While she has been compared to the likes of Brian Tracy and Jack Canfield, Julie has an energetic, humorous, and insightful style that is all her own.