Top 5 Don’ts in Resolving Conflict

Conflict can arise in a myriad of situations and often is easily resolved when the individuals affected have the opportunity to sit down and openly discuss any issues.  However, there are specific things a person should never do when attempting conflict resolution, as the result will either escalate the current conflict, or create a situation where the issue may become the impetus behind greater problems. 

While not a complete list, here are the top five tactics to avoid when attempting to resolve conflict:

  1. Do not attempt a discussion when your emotions are running high.  If the incident has just occurred, it may be prudent to wait a day or two to make sure that you have taken a moment to process the event and feel confident that you can approach the individual as calmly and objectively as possible.  Walking into a situation when you are still emotional spells disaster for the outcome and often leaves all parties on the defensive.
  2. Do not make assumptions about the other party.  It is easy to infer intent when you are left without explanations, but it is never a starting point in which to engage another person.  It would be more advisable to enter the discussion by immediately giving the individual the benefit of the doubt.  When you start at a point of understanding, the other party is more apt to return that same courtesy.
  3. Do not make it personal.  If the conversation opens with a personal statement directed at the other party, you have doomed the entire venture.  People are more apt to accept criticism of an issue if they do not feel personally attacked.   Additionally, your credibility becomes a focus rather than the incident.
  4. Do not seek guidance from possibly biased individuals.  It’s human nature to want validation for our interpretation of conflict.  However, if you are only looking for validation and not an unbiased opinion that may disagree with your own, you are only reinforcing your own preconceived notions. 
  5. Do not create a hostile environment.  Once the conflict has reached a resolution, no matter how tenuous, do not create an environment of hostility by discussing the incident with others in a way that negatively affects the other party.  Once again, your credibility can be questioned, as well as the ethics and integrity surrounding the resolution.

Handling the resolution process is a delicate enterprise that often requires a certain amount of experience and emotional intelligence.  It is important to remember that in a conversation between two parties, there is only one person you can control… yourself.  With that in mind, there is a greater possibility to create an environment in which both parties feel comfortable with a resolution.

Solving Conflict like a Kindergartner | TEDxYouth@StansteadCollege
Patrick Young…Resolving conflict. In this talk, Patrick outlines the key ingredients for conflict resolution whether it be a simple conflict between two teenagers or a major conflict between world powers, all we need to do is listen actively, show empathy and have the courage to de-escalate the situation. Why is it not that easy?


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Lies, J. (2012). Internal communication as power management in change processes: Study on the possibilities and the reality of change communications. Public Relations Review, 38(2), 255–261. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2011.12.015

Steele, C. M. (1997). A threat in the air: How stereotypes shape intellectual identity and performance. American Psychologist, 52(6), 613–629.

Published by Melissa A. Walker, Ph.D.

Training and Development Network believes there is always a positive way to engage, develop, and retain your employees; create a supportive environment for diversity, equity, and inclusion; assess opportunities to build on current knowledge or skills; and facilitate change management for any organization. We believe in engaging, actionable programs that enable your staff and leadership to immediately implement tools for change and growth. TAD offers a variety services for both the individual and the organization. We are here help you navigate career challenges, or achieve your organizational or event goals. Contact us to start your proactive journey today.

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