“I don’t know what to say.”
“I don’t know what to do when someone starts crying (or screaming).”
“My heart starts racing and my mind goes blank.”
These are just some of the reasons I’ve heard from people when telling me why they don’t like conflict. As a result, they avoid conflict or if they see it, they avoid managing it well.
What if I could show you a way to manage yourself better during conflict that only requires you to have a chat, would you be interested?
So, what does this chat look like?
Well, it looks like a CONversation. That’s right, to manage conflict well, the people involved need to have a CONversation; a CONversation which can happen in two parts.
Part I of the CONversation:
- Includes only those directly involved in the conflict.
- Talks through all of the issues that have happened to date.
- Stays focused on the issues.
- Doesn’t stray into personal attacks.
- Gets down to the detail of how each person perceived each issue and the impact it had on them.
- Enables all people to speak.
- Enables all people to listen.
- Demonstrates respect for self and others.
It is during this important CONversation where people may hear things for the first time. It’s here where they start to gain an understanding as to why someone reacted in a particular way and it is from this process where their actions start to make sense.
Once participants have this understanding, they can then start Part II of the CONversation.
The second part focuses on how they would:
- Like “things” to be once the CONversation is over.
- Manage similar issues if they arose again.
- Approach each other in the future if they weren’t comfortable about something.
You see, managing conflict at work, with your neighbour or a family member doesn’t have to be avoided.
When should you have this CONversation?
As important as knowing what the CONversation involves, is knowing when to have this CONversation. This is critical to the success of the process above.
Don’t have the conversation when you are angry or upset.
If you are still emotionally charged, then that is not the right time. Allow for your emotions to reduce before starting the CONversation. To help with this, take a walk around the block and make a list of the issues from your perspective.
Taking long breaths is a good strategy as it slows the heart rate down and enables you to think more clearly. Writing a list helps you focus on the real issues; sometimes a conflict comes to a head masked by other matters. The list helps you identify what really is important to discuss with the other person.
When you are thinking more clearly and you have a list of items you need to address, then approach the other person and set a time and place that is comfortable for you both.
How do you start this CONversation?
After a conflict, each person is usually feeling a little edgy as they may be wondering if, next time they meet, “Will it be in peace or will it be in war?”. This mode of thinking is typical and provides a protection in case things go sour.
To invite them to a CONversation, you could say, “When we last met, there were some things that were said that appeared to concern us both and I’d like us to have a chat about those matters and how we can better manage situations like this. When do you have time for a chat?”. Approaching the other person in this manner shows that you know things aren’t right and you’re wanting to talk about those matters to look for a better way to manage your differences.
When you’re both back in a room together, you can start working your way through Part I and II. By following the process outlined above, you will be on the right track to a productive, respectful CONversation. And you’ll be taking the CON out of CONFLICT and putting the CON into CONVERSATION.
Sound good to you? Have you got a conflict happening in your life where you could use these strategies and plan to give it a go? I’d love to hear how it went for you.