How do you manage your own conflicts successfully?
I was someone who often gave in. I was not content with that. It always tasted bitter. But winning at the expense of others wasn’t the answer either.
So I found a way to manage conflict through three main habits.
These habits will change your conflicts in the long run. But they are not a miracle solution – your conflicts will not disappear overnight. It takes time and persistence to live and internalize these habits bit by bit.
So without further ado, let’s begin:
Think of the win-win situation
Thinking that everyone is a winner means looking for solutions that are beneficial to all those who disagree. This thinking is beneficial in all situations where different concerns arise.
Why is this thinking important?
The most lasting solutions are not those in which I assert myself, but those in which a common solution is found. When you think about win-win solutions, you build a relationship and trust. This avoids conflicts in the long term and makes it easier to deal with others.
Do you want to reaffirm your concern? Or have you tried to respond to both concerns? What was it like for the person you were talking to? What was his or her attitude (win-loss, win-win, loss-win)?
Your win-win thinking is put to the test when your counterpart is firmly caught in a win-lose mentality. Are you prepared to think of a win-win situation even if your partner wants to prevail?
Try to understand first and only then will you be understood.
Take the other person’s point of view for a short time. Try to feel what the other feels. Try to understand his or her concerns.
By listening to them you will build trust. In this way you increase the likelihood that people will listen to you.
There may be a lot of resistance. If I understand someone, doesn’t that mean I agree with what they’re doing?
This is an important point: understanding does not equal agreeing.
When I listen, I recognize my partner’s needs. But I don’t necessarily agree with his behaviour (his attempt to satisfy the need).
To overcome conflicts, four pieces of information are essential:
Focus on 4 pieces information
A popular conflict approach is the distinction between right and wrong. It was wrong to do this and it would be right to do that. In fact, there is usually only one right, and that is mine. This leads to accusations and justifications that lead nowhere:
The following 4 points of information go into more detail:
1) What are the facts that you or your partner are observing? What conclusions do you draw?
Your partner may be seeing a kitchen with a bunch of dirty dishes in the sink. Your partner may also be seeing breadcrumbs on the table. These are the observations. But what your partner is much more likely to tell you are evaluations: “This kitchen is dirty and messy! ( – and you might say: “It’s not dirty, look at your room!” etc.)
The facts are more or less the same for everyone. We can agree that there are dishes in the sink. But everyone often draws different conclusions. When you say the kitchen is dirty, only one side may agree.
You can also leave this step aside if you or the people in your context cannot do anything about it. It helps me to personally find out what is on my mind.
Here, too, I find it important: when feelings arise in a conversation, they are often wrapped up in accusations:
“I feel so exploited.”
“I feel betrayed by you.”
“I feel that you don’t care how I feel.”
If feelings play a role in your conversation, focus on the feelings you can feel in your body. For example the six basic emotions of Paul Ekman: sadness, anger, disgust, surprise, happiness, fear.
If you find it inappropriate to show your feelings, focus on observations and needs, depending on the context. This will also help you to be more in touch with yourself and not be restricted by interpretations (accusations).
3) What is it to you? What motivates you? What is important to you?
What I would distinguish from needs are strategies. Strategies or attempts at solutions are attempts to satisfy the needs. At the level of our basic needs, it is unlikely that conflicts will arise because they are understandable wishes such as love, security, etc.
Strategies can be discussed. How should my need for protection be satisfied? Every person takes different and sometimes even contradictory paths.
Focusing on what is important to you helps you to understand and accept yourself or the person you are dealing with. Even if you do not agree with the behaviour.
If you have an encounter of differences where your emotions are on fire, you may find it difficult to pay attention to these things. A first aid in a highly emotional situation is to focus on your own observations, feelings and needs. Then you can understand yourself a little better, get in touch with what is important to you and relax a little.
It is important to note that all of this is not a “quickfix”. But if you follow these principles you will be able to handle conflicts in a much more level headed manner.