How to be Better at Conflict Resolution in 4 Simple Steps


As a leader, you’re going to face conflict. It comes with the territory. But before you try to deal with a conflict, you first need to stop and ask yourself the following question: what is your perfect outcome?

The preferred result is almost always a calm and positive one.

It is best to approach these situations in an personable and approachable manner rather than an emotional one.

While there is more than one way to resolve any conflict, there are certain processes that will enable you to manage the differences in open and honest ways without damaging the relationships at stake.

Here are four simple steps that will allow you to make the transformation from you against me to us against the problem. This model has evolved through my work on conflict management in many organizations and couple counselling.

Step 1: Attend to the other person first – hear what they want “What do you want from me?”

If as a first step you justify, retaliate or talk about your need you are likely to communicate win-lose. You may not have a win-lose mind-set but this is what is likely to be heard. By hearing what they want, you create receptivity to your need.

Step 2: Explore the need behind the want for both of you “Why is this important to you?”

If it is impossible to meet the want identified in step one, you flush out the need behind their want and express your needs.

Step 3: Invite the other's solution “What can we do so both our needs are met”

The danger with giving my solution is that it is designed from my view of the world and may not meet the need of the other person. By inviting their solution you are likely to get commitment to this solution rather than compliance and more importantly they sense a willingness from you to meet their need.

Step 4: Build maximum win-win “What I like about your suggestion is… could we cater for……?”

Rather than argue, build on what is offered to maximise the win for both parties. This will intensify the sense of collaboration and strengthen the relationship

It is impossible to be in conflict if you show willingness to meet the other person’s need. 

If you're deep in the throws of a conflict try these tips and you should come to a preferred outcome. What kind of things have you faced before? What worked for you? I'd love to find out.

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