Resolving Conflict through Open Communications

July 3, 2018

 

Whether you’re managing a team or trying to create better relationships between your friends and family, there is bound to be conflict at some point.  Learning how to use open communication techniques will allow you to resolve conflicts, find solutions and create a more harmonious environment.   

 

What does that mean - Open communication is exactly what it sounds like: engaging openly in conversation or tackling an issue head on and discussing ways to resolve it. Nothing is accomplished by letting an issue fester because neither party wants to discuss it.

 

Many conflicts can be resolved simply by sitting down with someone and engaging in some open and friendly communication.  The trick is knowing how to do this, especially when you might be angry or hurt.  The discussion shouldn’t be accusatory, threatening, or argumentative, rather, it should be an opportunity for all people involved to calmly voice their opinions and be heard.

  • Set some ground rules.  If you are in a position of authority or leading the meeting, you should set ground rules for the open communication.  If you are not in authority you can still set ground rules for yourself. Some examples are:

    • Set the intention: our goal is to resolve the issue in the best interests of the group.  This may mean that some people won’t get their way – this is not personal, it is about the group! Another way to describe this is "a shared positive goal or outcome"

    • Everyone must be respectful to one another, even if you don’t agree

    • Listen and don’t interrupt.  Each person will have an opportunity to express their opinion. Try to keep to what can be observed, rather than getting into the emotional area.  Be objective!  Ask for their perspective. 

  • A face-to-face confrontation may not always be best. For instance, some people are more comfortable talking on the phone or chatting online.  Chose whichever method makes everyone feel most comfortable.

  • Do not make any of the people involved feel cornered or nervous.  This is an extremely important thing to remember if you are in a position of authority over them. You want to make sure that you’re looking to fix the problem and not to attack them.

  • Remember to focus on the problem and not the person. Take a moment and really consider what you need to do to make sure that you’re not accusing the person or putting them down. That’ll only close them off to everything you’re saying, so make sure to focus on the behavior or the problem without raising your voice.

  • Consider adopting an open door policy, both at home and at work. You’ll be able to effectively communicate with others if you show them that you’re willing to engage with them at any time.  This is an important conflict resolution strategy because it will give you a lot more face-to-face time with them in general.  The more you foster an open door policy, the fewer conflicts you will have.

  • When mediating a conflict, remember that you need to be firm and fair. Listen to all sides and give each person a chance to speak uninterrupted.

 

Personal Relationships Can Benefit from Conflict Resolution Too!

 

These tips can also help resolve family conflicts. No family member should be made to feel like his or her feelings don’t matter. You’ll have a much closer-knit relationship with your children and spouse if you have a mutual understanding that you can discuss any topic at any time, without having to wait for “the right time” or for a commercial break on television.

 

If you want your family to hear and respect your opinions, then treat them with the same level of respect. This is an important life lesson for people of all ages to learn.

 

This isn’t about winning an argument!  This is about resolving a conflict and coming up with a solution.  Not everyone is going to get their own way every time. So long as everyone involved was treated respectfully and the issue is out in the open, you can now begin working toward a satisfactory resolution as a team.

 

The more frequently you use these conflict resolution approaches, the easier it will become. Rather than side stepping a difficult or controversial subject, it will become second nature to have an open discussion and find a resolution.

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