Five Steps To Resolving Conflict

Conflict can be very stressful and harmful to our mental, physical, and emotional health if we do not manage it appropriately however we can develop skills and tools that can be effective in managing it in order to minimize its effect on us.  Whether we experience ongoing conflict at home with our family, have an argument with a friend, or continue to clash with a coworker, being able to take the appropriate steps to resolving conflict is key to our health and relationships.  Here are five steps that we can take to promote effective conflict resolution:

1. Identify the source of the conflict.

Each involved party should share his/her perspective of what is causing the conflict.  This should include identifying when the problem began and if there was a triggering event.  Oftentimes conflict arises as a result of underlying feelings, expectations, or actions that we  may experience and allow to build but are not uncovered until there is a triggering event.  What one party thinks is the problem may be very different from how the the other party views the situation and can turn into attacking behavior. 

2.  Consider the other party's perspective.    

It is a myth that acknowledging someone else's perspective means you agree with it.  The ability to put our own thoughts and feelings aside and instead LISTEN to the other person and acknowledge what they said can do wonders in managing conflict.  When we feel heard and understood we are more open to hearing the perspective of others, especially when it is different from our own perspective. This can help decrease anger and resentment and promote solution-oriented thinking.

3. Brainstorm possible solutions.

Once agreement has been reached about what the actual identified issue or source of conflict is, all involved parties should each identify possible solutions that he/she believes will promote resolution. This step involves focusing on the present and what each party wants to have happen instead of hashing the past.  

4. Identify the possible solutions that each party can agree to support.

Once all of the possible solutions have been considered from each party, a discussion should take place in which each party is encouraged to acknowledge which solution(s) he/she is willing to consider implementing other than the solution they themselves identified.                                               

5. Agree on a solution and begin to implement it.

Now that possible solutions have been narrowed down to the ones each party is willing to implement, an agreement needs to take place involving the most acceptable solution for everyone involved.  Once an agreement is made about which solution is the most appropriate, each party involved should identify what he/she is going to do to implement the solution and prevent future conflict from arising.

These steps can be a helpful guide for managing conflict effectively however we often experience situations in which it seems like outside support may be the best option.  An objective third party such as a mediator or therapist can assist with this process; therefore if you or someone you know could benefit from additional support in this area, contact Evolve Psychotherapy today.

~ Cory Stege, M.S., LMFT