In Parents' Coaching, Teachers' Advice

Conflict Resolution Strategies and Common Mistakes

Conflict Resolution Strategies

Conflict is a part of life, regardless of age, social status, and occupation. At one time or another, everyone will be in a situation with one or more people where a conflict arises. While conflicts often occur, what is important is how you handle the conflict. Handling a conflict the wrong way can lead to a loud verbal argument or, more seriously, a physical altercation.

Many companies use conflict resolution when dealing with their employees everyday. These are not only workplace conflict resolution strategies, however. Each of these conflict resolutions can be used in everyday life, for relationship conflict, group conflict, and for conflicts for kids.

Conflict Resolution Strategies

Accommodating

One very effective conflict resolution strategy is accommodating. This method works when one of the parties is willing to back down. If a conflict arises, and one of the parties involved in the conflict realize that the issue is not that big of a deal, and that it is not worth arguing about. When this happens, the party who wants to avoid the confrontation, will back down, and give in to the other party, causing the situation to diffuse.

Accommodating will only work if the party who wants to back down truly wants to. If they are just giving in to end the conflict, but really want things their way, they could end up resenting the other party, eventually leading up to another, more serious conflict.

Example: A couple is arguing about who was supposed to go pick up the clothes from the dry cleaner. After a few minutes of arguing, the wife realizes that this is not worth arguing about, and states that possibly she was wrong, and the argument ends.

Avoiding

Avoidance is a common conflict resolution strategy. This is when a conflict is about to begin, and one or both parties avoid the issues that are leading up to the conflict. When one or both parties do not want to discuss the situation, the conflict is immediately over. This is usually done when one or both parties realize that the situation is not worth the stock that is being put into it.

Using avoidance as a regular conflict resolution strategy can lead to low self esteem. The person who constantly avoids conflict may begin to feel that they cannot handle and confrontation because they have never actually been in a confrontation and came out the winner. Avoidance can also cause others to lose respect for the person doing the avoiding. When people see that this person is always avoiding confrontation, it may show others a great deal of weakness in this person.

One situation when avoidance will not be an effective conflict resolution method is if the other party does not want to avoid the situation. It takes both parties for this method to be effective. If the other party chooses not to avoid the situation, it would be necessary to come up with another conflict resolution to diffuse the situation.

Example: A wife comes home and realizes that her husband did not pick up the dry cleaning after work. Rather than getting angry and causing conflict, she leaves to pick up the dry cleaning herself, avoiding the confrontation.

Collaborating

When there is a confrontation, one very effective resolution strategy is collaborating. This is when the parties involved discuss the situation, and work together to come up with a solution which is acceptable for everyone involved. In order for this to be an effective method, all parties involved must come into the conversation with a calm, cool mind, and want to come up with a resolution together.

Example: A husband and wife are at odds over who was supposed to pick up the dry cleaning. The couple stop arguing, and implement a system so that this would not happen again.

Compromising

Compromising is a very effective form of conflict resolution. When both parties involved in the conflict are willing to give up a little bit in order to make both parties happy, they are able to compromise, and diffuse the situation. This method does not give both parties exactly what they want, however, both parties are getting part of what they want. Like collaborating, it is necessary for both parties to be calm and want to resolve the situation for this method to work.

Example: A couple is arguing over who should go pick up the dry cleaning. After some arguing, the couple decides to compromise, the husband will pick up the dry cleaning today, if the wife goes to the market tomorrow. This way, both parties are happy.

Competing

Competing is form of conflict resolution. In the end, only one party gets what they want. One side will win in the end, and the other side will lose. When a person has a very strong personality, they will usually use competing for most conflicts in their lives. When a person with a strong personality is having a conflict with a weak personality, they will typically win every time. If two strong personalities are using competing as a conflict resolution, they may end up butting heads and never coming up with a resolution to the problem.

Example: A couple is arguing over who will pick up the dry cleaning. In the end, the more dominant spouse will end up watching television, while the more submissive spouse heads out to pick up the dry cleaning. Because the spouse heading out is less likely to stand up for themselves, the conflict is over.

Common Conflict Resolution Mistakes

Being Defensive

When in a conflict, one common mistake is getting defensive. When a person gets defensive, they will immediately deny doing anything wrong. They will also look for reasons to prove their point, even if the reasons don’t make any sense. People may think that by being defensive, that the conflict will end in their favor, however, it will only lead to unresolved conflicts, causing one or both parties to become irritated or resentful.

Overgeneralizing

Making outrageous generalizations, the conflict can be blown out of proportion. Such generalizations include starting sentences such as “you never”, or “you always”. Before you make these statements, you should stop and think about whether they are true or not. When you over exaggerate when having a conflict, it will only direct you from the topic at hand, and begin arguing about the untrue and over exaggerated statements. In order to get to the heart of the problem, it is important to stay on topic.

Always Being Right

When one or both parties is stuck on the idea that they are right, chances are the conflict will never be resolved. When a person thinks that they are right, they normally expect everyone else to think that they are right as well. Suddenly, anyone’s point of view who is not the same, is wrong. In conflicts, there is no true right and wrong. It is not black and right. Because most conflicts are based on feelings, there is a gray area. It is necessary for people to stop with right and wrong, and try to listen to each others point of view during a conflict.

Psychoanalyzing

When two people are having a conflict, it is not uncommon for one or both parties to think that they know what the other is thinking. In reality, nobody knows exactly what another person is thinking unless they ask. By claiming to know what another person is thinking, it can lead to a more serious conflict. It is important that both parties do not assume what the other is thinking and feeling.

Not Listening

When two people are in the middle of a conflict, having a heated argument, it is not uncommon for one or both parties to tune out. They may interrupt when one person is trying to talk, roll their eyes, or rather than listening, preparing in their head what they are going to argue next. During all of this, listening is put on the back burner. It takes both parties hearing each other to resolve a conflict.

Blaming

During an argument, blaming each other is not going to solve the problem. Most people see admitting any guilt or responsibility in the argument will make them seem weak, therefore, making them wrong. Rather than seeing fault in each other during an argument, blame should be set aside, and only the facts should be presented.

Trying to Win

When two people are having a conflict, they will both try to win the argument. This is a bad idea. When both parties are busy trying to win the argument, they are not utilizing effective forms of conflict resolution. Trying to be right can only escalate the conflict.

Knowing how to utilize strategies for conflict resolution and avoid conflict resolution mistakes can help a person in both their professional and personal life.

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