We all have conflict.  Sometimes it is internal. Sometimes it is between us and someone else. Sometimes we are a third party to conflict happening between others.  Regardless of its origin, we are human and we experience conflict.

When I meet people out and about, and they learn what I do, they often tell me they don’t have conflict in their workplace. I smile and tell them how great that is, while thinking “yeah, right.” I get it though! The word “conflict” drags up all kinds of negative implications, and nobody wants to be openly associated with those things.

A big chunk of my work life is spent understanding and resolving conflict lingering between smart, likable, even terrific, professionals.  One thing I can assure you of is this: Conflict is normal. It is nothing to be ashamed of, and it can be the catalyst for strengthened relationships, heightened creativity, better decisions, and breakthroughs. The kicker for whether it is harmful or helpful is what you do with it.

There are so many places I could go right now, regarding “what you do with conflict.” For today, I’m going to share three little questions and one big statement, to help you successfully move through conflict.

Three questions for de-escalating conflict:

  1. What is my role in this? This is about your personal accountability, responsibility, and authority. This question helps you look objectively at how you have contributed to the situation, as well as what your role should or could be moving forward.
  2. What do I really want for myself, others, and this relationship? This is a “peel the onion” question, for sure. It helps you get to what is truly in your best interest, and the best interest of others, with regard for the importance of the relationships involved.
  3. What shall I do now, in order to move towards #2, in accordance with #1? This question gives you the opportunity to choose your next thoughts, words, and actions wisely.

When conflict is rising, asking yourself those three questions puts enough space between triggers and reactions to allow you to respond in a way that matches not only who you intend to be, but how you want to be known. With a little practice and self-awareness, creating the space needed to circumvent regrettable reactions takes a less than a few seconds.  We all have 2-3 seconds.  Especially if they help us create optimal outcomes.

I said I was going to give three questions and one statement to help you successfully move through conflict.  Here is the statement: Stay curious.

Staying genuinely curious keeps the situation moving forward with a clarity. Stay curious about why others have different opinions from you, as well as what might be going on in their world (which probably has nothing to do with you), and may be impacting them. The answers often won’t match the story in your head, and may be perspective shifting in a big way.

Contact us today to learn more about turning conflict into opportunities in your workplace.

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