How to Resolve Conflict: Introduction

04.09.2020 |

Episode #6 of the course Confident conflict management by Martin Probst


Welcome back.

Yesterday, we looked at why we must separate people from their behaviors, and some of the triggers that can lead to those undesirable actions. Today, we will learn about conflict constellations, and which role we should adopt to navigate to a successful outcome.

When we are required to resolve conflict, we must first and foremost acknowledge that things are not always as they seem to us.

“We know so much, that isn’t so.” —Mark Twain

Conflict is inevitable in business and other areas of our life and can destroy relationships and good teamwork. When conflict is not being managed promptly, it can very quickly deteriorate and negatively affect communication and productivity. Research shows that 60-80% of all difficulties in organizations come from strained relationships between employees, not from deficits in individual employee’s skill or motivation. Research commissioned by Australia’s Medibank found that stress-related absenteeism posed a $3.48b per year direct cost to employers, with stress-related presenteeism even higher at $6.63b per year. It is therefore essential that you gain the expertise and confidence to identify, deal, and resolve conflicts.

You can no doubt remember a conflict or even a business meeting where people put their teeth so much into a problem that they couldn’t see the forest for the trees. We can become incredibly subjective and thus creating negative emotions such as frustration, anger, stress or even anxiety seem our only choice. In other words, we feel stuck and therefore can’t make good decisions.


Conflict Constellation

During a conflict, we often step into the roles of either the aggressor, the victim, or the rescuer. We, therefore, become part of the problem, because none of these three parties possess a win-win mindset. Their perspective is based on personal opinion, assumptions, feelings, emotions, beliefs, etc.

Eldridge Cleaver most famously said: “You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.”


Becoming the Observer

Successfully and swiftly resolving conflict is inevitable for long-term success. After appreciating the fact that we are all different, the second step in finding resolutions is to ensure we stay clear of the drama cycle by becoming the observer. We can do this most efficiently by taking ourselves out of the equation and seeing the conflict, including ourselves in it, from a far-removed distance.

This disassociated birds-eye view can easily be achieved by visualizing yourself way above the event or sitting in a movie theatre and watching the event or conflict with you as one of the main cast members on the big screen. This will allow you to see things objectively where emotions of being stuck in the conflict are removed.


Steps to Resolving Conflict

A few very important things to remember when resolving conflict are as follows. Please note that we will cover these in more detail over the coming days:

1. Create an agreement frame. Similar to “rules of engagement”, i.e. “Is it okay, if we are open to listening to what other people have to say without interrupting the other person?”

2. Listening is key. As Epictetus said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

3. Aim for win-win. It’s the best long-term management strategy you can apply.

4. Structure conversations. Make sure you set a clear outcome from the get-go.

5. Follow up. Don’t assume everything is hunky-dory if you don’t hear anything back. Maintain the conversation and build strong relationships for the future.

My top tip for the day: Whenever you find yourself in a conflict situation (big or small), I encourage you to become the observer and try the disassociation method. You will be positively surprised by the solutions you suddenly have available when being removed from the conflict.

Tomorrow, we will take a closer look at why we should always aim for “win-win”, and what this actually means when handling conflict.

“Dare to make a difference!”



Recommended reading

Successful Strategies For A Win-Win Negotiation


Recommended book

The Power of TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) by David Emerald


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