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Handling Conflict

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Handling Conflict

Interpersonal conflict, whether family conflict or conflict in the workplace, is often dealt with in nonproductive ways. Two traditional approaches are avoiding conflict and managing conflict. A third option is conflict resolution.

As you can imagine, and probably have experienced, avoiding conflict is problematic. There is no opportunity for resolution and a back log of negative experiences starts to accumulate. These unidentified or unresolved conflicts simmer under the surface causing a general feeling of irritability between the involved parties. Perceptions, feelings and interactions between the parties become colored. Eruptions over minor matters, at seemingly random times, may also occur.

Managing conflict can have a better outcome than avoidance. However, to minimize harm, it must be done in a purposeful way. This is an ongoing process in which goals are set, frequent and honest communication occurs and differences are discussed openly. When actual resolution of the conflict is unlikely, it is best to establish such a plan.

Conflict resolution works to resolve problems in a mutually favorable manner. This approach goes beyond acknowledging and coping with conflict. At its best, it embraces conflict as an invaluable means for achieving ongoing learning and growth .

Viewing conflict as an opportunity for growth can go against instinctive responses. When conflict arises, we often feel attacked. Our fight or flight response may be triggered. We think we must choose between passivity or defense. However, if you don't personalize the problem (i.e. make it about you) then this level of reaction becomes unneeded. Instead, you can logically look at the situation, open to the other person's input, and decide together what can be done to help make things better.



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Barbara Gibson