We are living in uncertain times that affect the way we feel and interact with our social and physical environment. Now it is more challenging than ever to engage in conflict in a positive way and create good results out of our interactions. Relationships are suffering the effects of such an uncertain situation and it takes huge efforts to keep a positive mindset at all times and maintain healthy personal and professional relationships.
If you found yourself out of control lately, reacting in an uncommon way for your personality type, the first thing you should do is: Stop judging yourself!
We are all afraid and concerned and it is normal to overreact from time to time. This situation is new to all of us and it takes new and improved strategies to get positive results.
What happens when you fail to self-manage and get out of control?
When you respond immediately to something unpleasant, it's your anger that is leading, it's not you anymore. It is difficult to create a new and improved result when you respond from an unpleasant emotional state. When you do so, you're not aiming to create a better result, you are only reacting to a trigger and releasing your anger. If you take time to digest the first emotional reaction you give yourself the opportunity to lead from a place of abundance. You enter a conversation playing the role of the leader who is ready to contribute instead of the prosecutor who points the finger and accuses. A leader is someone resourceful and wise who has a lot to give and is capable to create a positive outcome from every circumstance.
Everyone can play the role of a leader in any situation, and when it comes to conflict no matter what type of conflict you're facing, below you may find some suggestions that will switch your mindset and help you lead the conflict into a constructive interaction:
1- Instead of pointing fingers and accusing ---- Explain the way this situation makes you feel
When you feel hurt resist to the urge of accusing, accusations will only put the other part in a defensive mode. Defensiveness is not a good place for conflict resolution, that`s why you should start your conversation focusing on yourself and your own feelings. When you share your vulnerabilities you indirectly invite the other/s to be vulnerable and share as well, this will create more clarity for both parties and help identify possible solutions.
2- Avoid starting the conversation with “You” --- Use sentences that start with “We“ or “Us”
When sentences start with “You” the conversation will no longer be about taking charge and leading to a better place but about pointing fingers and finding the guilty one. When you decide to detach from your own position and consider the issue from a higher place that includes both parties such as “We” or “Us”, it creates a more inclusive environment for discussion and such an environment opens doors and invites for progress.
3- Don't generalize it --- Be specific and stay in the present
Have you ever noticed yourself saying: “You always do it!” or “This is how you do things”, or “This is so like you”? These kind of generalizations tend to be perceived as judgmental and take away the attention from the specific issue. When you want to solve a certain issue that might have a positive impact, keep in mind that you should only focus in one specific situation and build on it.
4- Don't assume --- Ask questions to understand
Often conflict is caused by misunderstanding or lack of information. Using questions instead of affirmations is a great tool to create more clarity and use it to a better result. When you enter the conversation with an open mind to learn more about the situation itself and the other person/s feelings and actions you give yourself permission to slow down and push the breaks of conflict.
Be careful with the questions you ask, don`t make directive questions that aim to take the conversation in a certain direction that might fit you best, the other parties will always understand it and it might take you to another conflict. Ask open questions that invite for reflection and generate new insights in the conversation.
5- Speaking too much --- Spend the same amount of time listening as you do with speaking
Do your best to maintain a balance between the amount of time you spend speaking to the amount of time you spend listening. At first it might sound odd to have a timer but in long term you will start to notice the benefits, you will be better at listening and also you will learn to summarize and concentrate better your thoughts.
6 - Don't take credit --- Acknowledge the positives
Instead of taking credit, acknowledge the positive intentions you might notice in the other person`s behavior. When you take credit you are putting yourself in the rescuer`s position, the one who is always contributing and not taking back. Every conflict that starts in a relationship takes all the people involved to solve it, the responsibility and the merits have a common ownership. A conflict is perceived as something negative but it is not! When people engage in conflict and invest energy, that means they care! The opposite of a good relationship is not a conflictual one, the opposite of a good relationship is an apathetic one!
7- Clarification is not enough as a conversation goal --- be clear of the result you want to achieve from the interaction
Enter the conversation with a positive result in your mind , a necessity to clarify things is not enough to achieve a great result, you should aim for a greater goal such as an improved relationship or more alignment, or a next step towards a bigger goal etc.
Last but not least, every great interaction takes more than just one person to create a positive impact. If you see that you are not finding support in building a constructive interaction, it's better to back off and take time instead of pushing it too much. You are only responsible for your own behavior and all you can do to solve a conflict is your best. Sometimes your best won`t be enough to fix things and this is the case when giving time is the best choice. Leaders don`t avoid conflict, they just find a better way to engage in it and create something positive out of every challenging situation.