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How to Resolve Conflict Between People

by Kyle Martin

Conflicts are inevitable in even the healthiest of relationships; people will not always see eye-to-eye. But there are ways to resolve conflicts and work through differences. Coming up with a mutual solution can actually improve a relationship because it lends a new shade to the other person's personality. It can also improve the teamwork at the workplace when co-workers come up with a solution together. Establishing ground rules up front is important to a conflict resolution. People should not talk over each other, and making accusations and name-calling do not solve any problems.

Find a neutral location for your discussion. This should be a place where neither side feels threatened or an imbalance of power. The place should be relatively free of interruptions too.

Be polite and do not take criticism personally. It's important that everyone sets aside emotion and discusses the facts. Hurt feelings may be the source of the conflict, but they cloud a person's rational thinking.

Listen carefully to what's being said. This is your chance to hear the source of the problem and why the person you have a conflict with is acting a certain way. Don't plan your response while the person is still talking.

Take turns speaking and do not interrupt the other person. It's tempting to immediately defend yourself, but this can quickly devolve the conflict resolution into a shouting match.

Ask specific, impartial questions so you can better understand the other side of the conflict. Don't make declarative statements with words such as "always" and "never."

Don't change the subject. Stick to one conflict at a time or you will start going down different paths without solving anything.

State your viewpoint objectively. Clearly outline what you perceive is the source of the conflict without resorting to name-calling, making threats or putting other people down. Don't tolerate others getting personal in the discussion either.

Discuss viable options to resolve the conflict and write them down. This will be a chart of your progress toward conflict resolution and give you something to refer back to during your discussion. Be open to suggestions, even if they are not your first choice.

Take a break if no one can reach a resolution. Conflicts cannot always be resolved quickly and sometimes emotions will run hot in a discussion. Take a five-minute walk to get some fresh air and think things over, then return to the discussion table.

Items you will need
  • Meeting place

About the Author

Kyle Martin has been a newspaper reporter in Florida for over three years, and was a reporter in Mississippi before that. He is fluent in Spanish, having lived overseas during his formative years. He has a Bachelor of Arts in communications, with a concentration in journalism from Mississippi College.

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