If you view conflict as something that shouldn’t happen, something that harms relationships, it becomes negative. And then you avoid it and hope it will go away. But if you see conflict as a fact of life, an opportunity to strengthen relationships, you have a way of resolving conflict by turning it into something creative.

Try these “10 Ways to Resolve Conflict.”

1. Agree on a mutually acceptable time and place to discuss the conflict.

2. State the problem as you see it and list your concerns.

  • Make “I” statements.
  • Withhold judgments, accusations, and absolute statements (“always” or “never”).

3. Let the other person have his/her say.

  • Do not interrupt or contradict.
  • Do not allow name-calling, put-downs, threats, obscenities, yelling, or intimidating behavior.

4. Listen and ask questions.

  • Ask fact-based questions (who? what? where? when? how?) to make sure you understand the situation.
  • Ask exploratory questions (what if? what are you saying? is this the only solution to our problem? what if we did such and such? are there other alternatives to this situation?).
  • Avoid accusatory “why” questions (why are you like that?).
  • Use your own words to restate what you think the other person means and wants.
  • Acknowledge the person’s feelings and perceptions.

5. Stick to one conflict at a time — to the issue at hand.

  • Do not change the subject or allow it to be changed.
    “I understand your concern, but I’d like to finish what we’re talking about before we discuss it.”

6. Seek common ground.

  • What do you agree on?
  • What are your shared concerns?

7. Brainstorm solutions to the conflict that allow everyone to win.

8. Request behavior changes only.

  • Don’t ask others to change their attitudes.
  • Don’t ask them to “feel” differently about something.
  • Don’t ask them to “be” different.
  • If you want them to “stop doing” something, suggest an alternative action.

9. Agree to the best way to resolve the conflict and to a timetable for implementing it.

  • Who will do what by when?

10. If the discussion breaks down, reschedule another time to meet. Consider bringing in a third party.

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Check out How to Never Lose an Argument or Strategic Listening.

Chris Witt, a coach based in San Diego, works with executives and with technical experts who want to improve their presentation and communication skills. If you’re interested in learning more about how you could benefit from his coaching, contact him for a complimentary call.