I have to tell you that I’m not great at handling conflict. I’d much rather have things run smoothly and make sure that everyone gets along (just ask my family), works together, has fun and delivers great results, so when conflict happens I feel awkward and uncomfortable. I tend to do what I can to set things up ahead of time for smooth sailing, and I’ve really had to work hard at dealing with conflict when and if it arises. Working on this one area of my life has had a huge impact on my overall EMOTIONAL health. Here’s what I’ve found has worked for me.
1. Don’t make it personal
Sometimes it’s easy to let your emotions get tangled up in things, especially if someone’s disagreeing or even attacking your position. Don’t make it personal – people are allowed to disagree with your position, just as you’re allowed to disagree with others. The moment you start taking differences of opinion as personal criticism and judgement (even if that’s exactly what’s being thrown at you) you’ll be on the defensive or offensive, so balance that passion with the facts and a healthy sprinkling of common sense and perspective.
2. Get the facts
There could be facts you need to know about or areas you need to explore before taking action. Make sure you go deep enough into those areas to figure out the facts of what’s happening, but don’t dwell on detail after detail after detail. Be clear on what do you need to know and the most effective ways to get those answers. Work that out with an open mind and you’ll be in a stronger position to move forwards.
If you do one thing, make sure you hear everyone and respect their point of view. This is not the same as understanding everyone’s perspective (that can take a lifetime), but it’s important to have a healthy respect for their position even if you strongly disagree. Listening demonstrates the value of the relationships you have and that you’re willing to listen and engage with others. That can speak louder than any amount of yelling. 4. Be ready to be wrong If you’re wrong, admit it. Don’t hang on to your position just for the sake of wanting to be right – that’ll just get you into more hot water, is sure to waste everyone’s time and will probably end up with you looking or feeling silly. Don’t make the mistake of thinking being wrong is undesirable, it isn’t. Allowing yourself to be wrong shows that you’re switched on enough to do the best thing for all concerned and find the best route through. It demonstrates that you’re lead by integrity and are willing to take on new ideas if they work better, even if that flies in the face of what you were thinking previously. Be ready to be wrong – that’s how you grow.