It doesn’t have to be that resolving conflicts turns into a tightrope walk. Admittedly, resolving conflicts requires a great deal of attention and sure-footed progress. You should know very well when it is advisable to keep your mouth shut and when it is worthwhile to fight for your own idea or to face a conflict openly.
As a conflict manager, I often recognize that it is the reactions of the people involved that fuel the conflict carelessly and unintentionally. The resulting damage is often considerable and could have been avoided – for example by using the following tricks:
The most important thing is always: think first, then act
In most disputes guides you can read that the most important point is to keep calm and sovereignty – or to get back to it. Back because we humans tend to act instinctively when we are at odds. Which explains why people do not always consider beforehand what effects and consequences their actions can have.
My advice: first think and weigh carefully, then react appropriately.
But how do you get to rest in situations in which you might run out of skin?
Find out your share of the anger
If something annoys us, makes us angry or we react in any other way emotionally, then there is always an own share that is worth finding. It always has something to do with ourselves. So it helps to think about your own part first. The point is to clarify the question: “What has what is happening now to do with me? What personal contribution do I have? ”
This will save you time, think and calm down. However, it is not helpful if you continue to think about the other person, who is supposedly the only culprit in the current misery, … that is, about the person or the thing that triggered the emotional reaction in the first place. It is more about stopping the emotional spiral and not fueling it with your own thoughts. It’s about dealing with your own share of the situation or matter.
As a conflict manager, I always like to ask myself this question about my own part in order to find out that I then react confidently and constructively – instead of emotionally charged and perhaps unfair.
My advice: find your own share, leave the spiral, come to rest.
So if you become aware of yourself in this way and act in a reflected manner, you do not get into a mess through rash actions and hastily pronounced statements. He will not criticize the CEO in front of the assembled team or pronounce a rash termination – but weigh and act confidently and reflective.
When to Avoid fights or conflicts should
It is not always worth fighting for an idea or openly addressing a conflict. However, it is not about avoiding every conflict per se – but about acting as confidently and constructively as possible in the respective situation.
If, for example, you had to criticize the boss in front of the assembled team or if it emerges in advance that the opposing side would have to change completely, although they defend their own position with all means and with firm conviction, then an open discourse is often not worthwhile. It’s about weighing up the risks and consequences and treading as constructive a path as possible, instead of talking emotionally about head and neck.
It depends on the motivation. Which goal do you want to achieve with the respective action? Is it just about discharging your pent-up emotions or even your anger about the respective situation? Then there are more sovereign options that involve significantly fewer dangers.
My advice: Ask yourself: What goal are you and your fellow campaigners pursuing?
When is it worth fighting
However, there are also situations in which it is worthwhile to fight for your own point of view and your own ideas. For example, if there is no second opinion because legal requirements have to be complied with. Or when it comes to existential issues: When the works council is fighting to keep jobs or the single mother is fighting for her right to continued wages when she stays at home to look after her sick child. Then it pays to hold discussions, even if you make enemies and perhaps provoke further conflicts. However, it is advisable to only be tough on the matter, but not towards people.
In order to find one’s own balance again, sometimes – the emphasis is on sometimes – a conflict has to be completely discharged before something new can develop. Sometimes the pressure has to be released so that something new has room. However, these are clearly exceptions. It is important afterwards to approach each other again and to strive for clarification. It’s even better if you manage to take off the pressure on your own instead of involving others.
Incidentally, a clarification has only been made when everyone involved is satisfied with the result. If one of the parties keeps talking about it, then everything is not yet clear. Then something is smoldering. Talk about it before it becomes the next conflict.
My advice: When it comes to something that is of central importance to you, stay tough on the matter – but don’t be against people.
Use simple but very helpful tools
1. Asking questions and listening
Anyone who asks questions shows interest in the position of the other side and paves the way for clarification. This, coupled with attentive listening, is the solution to (almost) all conflicts. Of course only if clarification is required. This also means that all sides must be ready to leave their respective positions and move closer to the adversary. On the other hand, those who persistently try to convince the other side of their own position, and possibly with all means, may win. In doing so, however, he is unlikely to achieve unity, but rather new conflicts.
In most cases, an apology acts like a bridge between the opponents. For some, however, their own ego gets in the way and the word “sorry” is difficult to say. But it is worth overcoming your own ego. After all, there are always points for which one can sincerely apologize, perhaps for a clumsy choice of words or for careless behavior. This is often enough to build a bridge on which you can then meet again at eye level – in order to then strive for clarification.
Examples: “If I accidentally expressed myself badly and came too close to you, I would like to apologize” or: “We do not agree on the matter, but I apologize for the choice of my words about it.”
3. Admit mistakes, react consensually
If a conflict has developed, there are, depending on the situation, effective options to counteract before it escalations that cannot be controlled. One possibility is to identify the trigger for the critical situation in order to deprive it of food. Admitting a mistake or humility, the opposite of arrogance, can be good advisors.
4. Consult a neutral third party
Sometimes you need an objective view and profound professional advice from a neutral person so that conflicts don’t turn into a tightrope walk. In that case, I recommend turning to the conflict manager or mediator you trust and getting help or advice. Usually free initial discussions are offered to get to know each other. In addition, many legal protection insurance companies cover the costs of the clarification process.
Stephanie Huber is the founder and managing director of konSENSation GmbH and works full-time as a mediator with a focus on business mediation and conflict management. Your area of responsibility primarily includes companies and their managers who are looking for solutions for their company through active communication management.