Conflict Resolution Solutions

Dr. Matthew Arau • February 2024Leadership Tips • February 19, 2024

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Can’t we all just get along?” I certainly have, but the truth is in any organization or ensemble, disagreements, struggles, and conflict will arise just by the sheer fact that groups are composed of individuals. The question then is not whether conflict will happen, the question is how we can best go about finding a positive resolution solution to conflict when it does occur. Rather than letting anger or frustration fester, it is important both parties feel comfortable and safe sharing their sides with one another. In some cases, it may be advisable to have a neutral third party serve as a facilitator and mediator. 

Here are five leadership tips to help move from conflict to a positive resolution. 

1. Communicate clearly – Take a few deep, slow breaths first to decompress and calm yourself before beginning the conversation. Share what is troubling you, how you feel, and why you feel this way. Focus on the behavior and actions of the person you have a conflict with rather than making it personal. Avoid name calling and labeling. You can use statements such as, “when you said or did this, it made me feel ….”

2. Listen for understanding – When the other person is sharing their side of the dispute, conflict, or disagreement, be fully present, breathe mindfully, and listen with the intent to understand where the other person is coming from. This approach can often clear things up and a conflict can be resolved at this step if it turns out that the entire situation was a misunderstanding.

3. Have an open mind – Although you may be upset, approach the conversation with an open mind. Be willing to be wrong and be willing to apologize. Try to look at the situation with a creative mind to look for a solution. Albert Einstein once said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” Admitting where we may have overstepped or overreacted can open channels of communication with the other person and may lead them to consider and share where they may have also been at fault.

4. Find common ground – Even though you are experiencing a conflict with someone, you are still part of the same team, organization, or ensemble. Reflect on what you do have in common in terms of goals for the group and why it is important to be able to work together for the benefit of the larger mission of the organization and the other members.

5. Craft a win-win solution – Through the process of communicating, listening, considering each other’s point of view, and finding common ground, the final step is to come up with a solution that is a win-win for both parties. The conversation and reflection will hopefully lead to a deeper understanding of one another, a potential apology, and a pathway forward that everyone is satisfied with. Ultimately, rather than looking for simply a resolution to conflict, we should look for a positive solution.

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