Resolving Conflict

Developing good conflict resolution skills can be a very important part of dealing with the stressors in your life, especially when you are forced to deal with difficult or sometimes disagreeable people.  Even when communication and understanding are improved, there still remains the question, "What do we do about it?" Some work teams or couples talk a lot but fail to take action to resolve their conflicts. You can't leave conflicts unresolved. If you do, they'll hang around as areas of tension making the interpersonal atmosphere unpleasant or very difficult.  As with all skills, the more you practice, the better they'll get. Here is a suggested method to follow:

  • Identify the Problem.  It is especially important to listen to the other person's side of the argument to understand their basis for disagreement.  Focus on the problem, and keep personalities out of it.  Let each person state how they see things. Avoid blaming others.

  • Stick to the Issue.  Stay focused on the issue at hand.  Don't bring up old issues from the past. Then, if you have a disagreement, you not only argue about today's issue but all your old grievances as well.  That never works, and then you really have a mess and nothing gets resolved.

  • Avoid Personal Attacks. Maintain respect for each person involved in the discussion. You may not agree with your coworkers' positions, but it is vital that you respect their right to see things differently than you do.  Speak from your own viewpoint, using "I" statements.

  • Keep your Comments Simple and Clear.  Too much talk can confuse or blur the real problem. Focus on how you interact with each other. Take turns in discussing the conflict as well as possible resolutions.

  • Generate Options for a Mutually Acceptable Solution. Ask each other, "What can we do to make it better?" "What do you suggest we try?" Be careful not to automatically evaluate or criticize the other individual’s thoughts or ideas. Brainstorm.

  • Agree on an Action Plan. Think how the plan would affect each of you and what might happen if you tried other possibilities. Respect all suggestions even if they seem unreasonable. Discuss the consequences of a suggested plan of action rather than ridiculing an idea or dismissing it without serious consideration.

  • Give your Action Plan a Trial.  Do your part to follow through. See how it works. Don't say, "I told you so" if it doesn't work. Change your plan if it doesn't do what you thought it would. Keep the good parts and make adjustments to make your new plan better than the old one.


Remember the LIFELINE Program.  The LIFELINE Program has helped many employees resolve the conflict in their life.  Call confidentially 24/7 at 1-800-284-7575.