Conflict Resolution

by Jordan Atwell

expressive african american couple quarreling in room
Photo by Alex Green on

Being in a conflict with someone can be a never-ending cycle and can truly drain you. It might consume your whole day and you may feel as if it will never be resolved. It may also harm your self-esteem due to you putting the blame on yourself and being troubled with what is the proper way to deal with the conflict. Most times, it can be extremely difficult to try and find a resolution to the conflict you may be facing.

Here are five different strategies identified by Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann for conflict resolution:

  1. Avoiding

This method is known as being both unassertive and uncooperative. Typically, this method is used when someone doesn’t want to address the issue at hand. People tend to use this method in hopes that the conflict will either resolve itself or dispel. Some people may use this method in order to put off facing the issue until a later date.

  • Accommodating

This method is known as being accepting and cooperative. The individual dealing with the conflict will disregard their own beliefs or stance on the conflict and focus on the other party’s beliefs. This method will highlight the strengths of the individual that focuses on the other’s stance rather than their own, showing their generosity and showing that they are able to self-sacrifice. 

  • Compromising

This method is both assertive and cooperative. Typically, both parties involved in the conflict will not be completely satisfied with the resolution that they come to, but they will find some satisfaction in it. This method is also used when trying to come up with a solution in a fast manner.

  • Competing

This method is assertive and non-cooperative. It only focuses on the concerns of the individual at hand, at the cost of the other person’s thoughts and feelings.

  • Collaborating

This method is both assertive and cooperative and is known as the most beneficial outcome. This method is when both parties involved work together to delve into the conflict and come up with a solution that benefits them both. The solution will satisfy each party entirely.

Some conflict resolution methods are better off used in different scenarios. To decide which method to use there are a few things someone should consider, some examples are:

  1. How important your feelings/beliefs are
  2. How important the other parties feelings/beliefs are
  3. The impact this conflict will have on you and the other party
  4. How it will impact you if your feelings are not put first
  5. Any consequences you could face from the different methods

Some tips on how to deal with a conflict with another person are to:

  1. Focus on the problem

You want to make sure you’re focusing on the problem at hand, rather than the person, or else the other person involved can begin to feel attacked, and it can start turning into personal attacks and make the conflict worse than it was before. If the disagreement starts to become personal, rather than being about the problem, then take time from having the conversation.

  • Use reflective listening

Reflective listening is when you listen to what the other person said to you and then restate it in your own words. This will give you a better understanding of what the other person said, and they will know that you understood them. From there, you can share your own thoughts, and hopefully, they will then reflect back on your ideas in their own words. This technique is used to ensure that everyone feels listened to and understood.

  • Use “I” statements

Using I statements will ensure you’re able to state your feelings, without placing the blame on someone else. Typically, starting a sentence with “you” will make the other person become defensive.

  • Take a break

If you begin to feel overwhelmed due to trying to resolve the conflict, you might just need to take a break. If the conversation is beginning to become argumentative, or insulting, it’s a good idea to take a break. Giving both parties the chance to calm down, and come back to the conversation at another time.

Out of the five conflict resolution strategies, is there one that you think you typically rely on? Is there anything you see that you recognize you do and could improve on?

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