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Dealing with Conflicts: A Survival Guide for Awkward Encounters

Conflicts, whether they're as harmless as a verbal spat over the last slice of pizza or as wild as a family feud over who forgot to feed the cat, are like unwanted guests at a party – they always seem to show up uninvited. They're stress factories for everyone involved. But the real million-dollar question is: how do we squash these conflicts like bugs on a windshield?

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Should conflicts be avoided?

Conflicts, whether verbal or those that cross the line of good taste, are not always avoidable. They are a source of stress for each of us. But the real question is how to resolve conflicts that inevitably arise sooner or later.

Although many of us have opposing experiences because conflicts usually deepen the divide, we often overlook the fact that it's just another challenge before us. And every challenge is an opportunity for change. Ideally, for the better. Effective conflict resolution can build deeper relationships and promote more effective communication.

What to say?

All those who must resolve conflicts, especially if they are in leadership positions, ask themselves how to resolve them, what to say, and how to turn things around for the better. Conflicts always involve emotions, and they are precisely the trigger for something impossible to simply switch off.

It's therefore good to sometimes loudly say what is so obvious - "I feel that this has affected you, am I right?". Emotions must not be ignored. They can make good people better and bad people even worse. Emotions are easier to ignite than extinguish. When we tell someone that we see their pain, dissatisfaction, or anger, it can help reduce tension.

What to do?

Before we start resolving a conflict, it's not a bad idea to take a break. It's good to blow off steam through a walk, rest, contemplation, and deep breathing.

Honesty and effort are appreciated. Most people who speak the truth do not receive recognition for it. And because of that, many avoid talking about what's happening and what they see. Conflict cannot be resolved without considering all the "truths" that each of those involved in the conflict and around it sees.

Similarly, results are more valued than the effort invested, especially if that effort is part of someone else's success. Therefore, it is important to recognize and appreciate the effort. Especially if it is significant and objectively did not contribute to the failure of the project. Helping people feel appreciated can establish a positive connection and help create a common language.

Together To a Solution

Let's work on the problem and solve it together. Although it sounds like a cliché, this sentence puts people on opposite sides of the conflict on the same side and creates a partnership between them. In the end, building and maintaining long-term collaboration is always more important than resolving the current conflict.

Tell me more because I want to understand you. Most of us speak to be heard, but few are willing to take the time to understand others. Each of us wants to be understood. And while you listen to another person, you don't have to agree with them, just show that you want to hear and understand them.

Avoiding New Mistakes

What can we do to prevent conflicts and mistakes from recurring? When we say a sentence like this, we're not blaming anyone or shifting blame onto others but creating a framework for avoiding new mistakes. It's also important to ask what can be done to change the situation. Then it's important to speak in the "we" form because it's not something an individual, manager, or team member can do alone but everyone together. Collaboration is then more important than hierarchy, and problem-solving is more important than pointing fingers.

If there are miles between you, find something you can agree on to start with the words, "Yes, you're right." When people feel listened to and affirmed, there is a greater likelihood of engaging in constructive dialogue.

Admitting mistakes

Admitting your ignorance is a good way to defuse a situation. In dialogue, it's necessary to stop speaking and truly listen, letting the other person know that you're interested in what they're saying. With asking questions and empathetic listening, the root of the conflict can be reached.

Taking responsibility can also work wonders. If you let people know you're with them, not only can you resolve the current situation more easily, but you can also avoid future conflicts.

Every leader should use another sentence, not only in conflicts but also in every dialogue, conversation, and communication. "How can I support you?" alleviates stress, reduces tension, calms conflicts, and sets a positive tone in relationships.

So, should we avoid conflicts like the plague? Nah, let's face them head-on and turn them into sitcom material. After all, life's too short to take everything seriously. Let's laugh in the face of conflict and watch it run away with its tail between its legs.


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