Conflict Resolution Tips

      Do not speak in anger. Allow yourself the opportunity to cool off before expressing your viewpoint. You do not want your message to get lost while others focus on your emotions.

Choose the time and place carefully. Avoid initiating a confrontation in public or when uninvolved people are present. Try to choose the best time of day for your self and the person with whom you want to discuss the issue — some of us are morning people, some are not; some are short-tempered just before lunch, some are not at their best just after lunch, etc. Avoid times when the other person is dealing with a loss or mistake, just before an event at which the person must be at her/his best (such as before a presentation or performance review), at the end of a difficult day, or when in a hurry or working under a deadline.

It is not what you say but how you say it. Take care to avoid finger-pointing and accusations. Depersonalize your comment to the extent that it is possible. Be aware of your body language, eye contact, gestures, facial expression, tone inflection and volume discussing issues with him/her. Conflict resolution becomes more difficult when the involved parties are responding defensively.

Present your concerns in a calm, methodical manner. Some people find it helpful to make notes for themselves so they can maintain their course and not overlook any comments they want to make.

Allow the other party the opportunity to respond. Some people are good on their feet while others may require a bit of time to process your comments and formulate a response. A request for time is not necessarily an attempt to avoid you or the issues you have raised.

Listen carefully and give the other person your complete attention.

Try to understand the other person’s behavior from her/his viewpoint. Expressing your understanding of the other’s position will show that person that you are not only concerned with your own viewpoint and may help open up communication.

If conflicts are ongoing, keep notes of dates, events, and circumstances so you have an accurate frame of reference.

Face-to-face discussions are best but there may be times when you feel you would not be able to present yourself well verbally. In those cases, you may want to write a letter. The two advantages of writing are you can choose your words thoughtfully and you can monitor your level of emotional expression. You could ask a trusted friend to read your letter and help you recognize phrases or words that might feel judgemental to others. Keep in mind that today’s seemingly innocent comments may appear far more damaging tomorrow. Therefore, it may be a good idea to wait a day before sending your document.

If the response to your concerns is unacceptable or if there is no response at all, try again.

When a conflict remains unresolved, you may decide to let it go or to continue to pursue an acceptable resolution. If you choose the latter, communicate with the person at the next level and ask for advice and assistance. You could also consult with the Office of the Ombudsperson.

Source:International Ombudsman Association