Conflict Resolution

The possibility of experiencing any type of conflict can be very frightening and, at the same time, frustrating. Sometimes conflict arises at the least expected moments and requires knowledge and skills to resolve. Conflict can surface within any type of situation. For example, conflict can exist within personal relationships with friends, loved ones, and within any type of situation in which there is a hierarchal relationship (e.g. professor/student, employer/employee). Conflict tends to occur between people that do not even have personal or direct relationships with one another.

Conflict can be the result of differences in personalities that cause people to think differently. These very differences in personalities often result in people having different opinions about certain things which can easily lead to some type of disagreement or conflict. It is very important that differences in personalities are considered when people are interacting with one another due to the fact that personalities sometimes give indications of the mentalities and behaviors of people. In order to begin solving conflict, one needs to understand the different types of behaviors.

It is understood that there are three types or modes of behaviors. They are the child, parent, and adult modes of behavior.

When a person is behaving within the child mode, they are focused on self-gratification. they are demanding and consumed with on their own needs and desires. On the emotional level, they are somewhat emotional and easily hurt. These characteristics themselves may result in the person behaving impulsively they have thought about a situation.

A person behaving within the parent mode tends to have more of an authoritarian style of thinking. When one is behaving within this mode, one tends to think that they know what is best. Judgmental thinking and behavior often surface when a person is in the parental mode. This alone can lead to persecuting, scolding, or punishing.

Lastly, when one is behaving within the adult mode, one tends to think clearly and consider the situation that has surfaced. A person acting in this mode will listen, consider the other person's point of view, speak in a non-provoking tone of voice, and try to solve problems. Acting within the adult mode is the best way to resolve conflict. In this way, no one will feel as if their feelings and/or opinions do not matter; this reduces the possibility of serious conflict. When conflict arises, it is probably because all are behaving in the child and/or parent mode. Therefore, it is best if at least one person behaves in the adult mode. Here are some tips for resolving conflicts when they arise:

  • Remain calm at all times.
  • Speak with a non-provoking tone of voice - quietly, slowly, and calmly.
  • Listen to the other person carefully without interrupting them.
  • Respect the other person when voicing your own opinion or point of view.
  • Let the other person know that you understand them fully by asking questions pertaining to their understanding, and repeating what the person is saying.
  • Use humor, if possible and appropriate.
  • Place yourself in the other person's shoes.
  • Try not to be judgmental. Do not do anything to embarrass the other person. Do not accuse the other person of anything. Also, do not punish or scold them.
  • Do not stand close to them. Stand a few feet away from them.
  • Make sure that your posture, body language, and tone of voice are non-threatening.
  • Do not talk with the other person in front of a group of people. Go into an office or other private place to discuss the situation. (Caution: Do not go isolate yourself in an area that will prevent you from receiving help if you need it.)
  • Make sure that what you say is simple, clear and direct.
  • Do not take anything the other person says personally when he or she is angry, because they probably do not mean it.
  • Make sure that you are not alone, just in case the other person becomes very hostile.
  • If you are having a heated argument with another person, save your feelings and opinions for another time and place.
  • Do not rush.
  • Let the other person know that you do not want to fight, but that you want to resolve the situation in a friendly manner.
  • Make sure that you apologize for anything you may have said or done to offend them