As everyone who has ever experienced change (that’s all of us) knows, with change comes conflict.  For most of us conflict is uncomfortable- even something to avoid.  Conflict is a normal consequence of differing perspectives, styles and goals. When we expect and are prepared for conflict, we can keep harmful and disruptive conflict at a minimum while increasing the level of positive change within ourselves, our organizations, and our communities.

Take action today to start resolving conflicts in key areas of your life. Which of the steps below is the weak link in your current approach?

1. Determine when to talk.

Setting up a time and place for a discussion at some point in the future helps to give each party a little space to calm down and approach the issue more reasonably.

2. Identify one issue or disagreement.

Many conflicts tend to spill over into other issues.  This bleeding over into other issues makes for muddy waters where both parties end up not really knowing what they’re fighting about.  Make sure you are talking about one issue or situation. Dealing with one thing at a time increases the chance that a resolution can be found.

3. Own your part in the conflict.

Conflict is rarely the result of just one person. Knowing what each person has contributed to the challenge and their perspective is elemental to resolving the issue.

4. Consider many possible solutions.

Talking over many possible solutions in an objective way helps both parties to consider the pros and cons of differing perspectives.

5. But agree on one solution.

Come to an agreement on trying out a solution.  Conflict can easily become perpetual.  Draw a line in the sand instead.  Even if the solution doesn’t work, the conflict has still moved one step closer to resolution and away from stagnation.

6. Decide on what each person will do to support the solution.

Identify how each person will contribute to making the solution work.  It’s important that both parties know how each other will be accountable.

7. Check in on progress.

Keep channels of communication open and see how the solution is working out.  Often, solutions will likely evolve over time, and new needs will surface.  By checking in, progress can be sustained, and derailment of the effort averted.

8. Celebrate and recognize all contributions. 

Focus on what’s going right and acknowledge positive results.  This will help to build the relationship and prevent conflict from resurrecting

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