12 Conflict Resolution Skills Every Student Needs Before Graduation
The need to learn conflict resolution is great no matter what age you are or what phase of life you’re in. It’s something that even seasoned adults can struggle with, so it’s never too early to learn some effective tactics for coping.
In this article, we’ll be looking at 12 tips in particular that you can use to better manage your disagreements. These will help you find a conflict resolution path that works. Let’s begin!
1. Separate Conflicts From Personal Attacks
When it comes to conflict resolution, you won’t get very far if all you’re doing is taking each counterargument as a personal attack on your character. That type of thinking can make you come across as too emotional and hurt your position.
By the same token, you need to learn to look at the fine points of the other side’s argument. You know you’ve lost when you’re resorting to attacks on character instead of addressing the points.
Stay focused on the issues and problems. Not what you think about the other person. And if they’re resorting to personal attacks, either walk away or veer the discussion back to the issues at hand.
2. Keep Fingers To Yourself
We’re going to assume that you’re mature enough at this point to keep your hands to yourself. As in, you know better than to try and solve your problems by getting physical. That doesn’t mean you know how to keep your fingers to yourself, however.
What do we mean by keeping your fingers to yourself? We mean make sure that you’re not pointing them at others. Assigning blame is the quickest way to shut down discussions.
Besides, problems that arise gain nothing from knowing whose fault it was and publicly humiliating them. Instead, focus on what went wrong and what you can do to fix it. Together. That will prepare you to be a leader.
3. Manage Tone
Tone is yet another thing that can shut down productivity when seeking conflict resolution. If the other party perceives an accusing tone, then you might as well be pointing fingers. (See No. 2.)
Use controlled breathing before you put anything into words. Focus on the issue and possible resolutions. Filter each and every thought through that lens, and you’ll be able to keep things on track.
Furthermore, tonal management is likely to mean the other party does the same. If you’re both managing your tone, then you’re going to come much closer to resolving your conflicts instead of escalating them.
4. Actively Listen
There’s a difference between hearing someone and actively listening to them. When you hear something, you may know what is being said, but you’re not considering it. You’re instead thinking about response.
Listening, on the other hand, means seeking understanding of what the other person is saying. You don’t have to agree with it, but you should be able to see where they’re coming from in their arguments. This will help you to better prepare your responses and come closer to resolution.
To help with this, ask questions to yourself about what the other person is saying. Try to anticipate their arguments without butting in or interrupting them. Evaluate the logic in what they are saying to see if they are correct or if you can logically tell why they are not.
5. Refrain From Backstabbing
Backstabbing is a toxic behavior that can ruin friendships, affect current/future employment, and earn the backstabber a terrible reputation. If you have an issue with someone, addressing it face-to-face is a much more productive way of handling it.
It can feel uncomfortable at first. You might raise your voices and refrain from speaking to one another. But if you’re the type of person who takes things head on, people will always respect you more in the long run.
Backstabbing can also derail any agreement that you’re able to reach with others in the moment. Say you’ve come to an agreement, but the other person catches wind of what you said about them to someone else before it can be enacted. In those cases, all that progress and time is wasted.
6. Identify Middle Ground
Approach every argument or conflict from a different perspective. Instead of thinking, how can I win this, think instead about what you can agree on. There might not be much at first, but trying harder to drill down into what they’re saying, even the smallest agreements, can be a starting point for progress.
That’s not always easy to do, especially when you feel convicted about your beliefs. However, it’s necessary for a couple of reasons.
For starters, you might actually find there are some issues you can agree on by doing the exercise. Secondly, you’ll know why you can’t agree and why your way is the right way by playing “devil’s advocate” with yourself. This will allow you to counter what the other person is saying from a place of logic instead of emotion.
The more you can keep logic front-and-center, the more the tone of the conversation will follow suit. That paves the way for conflict resolution.
7. ‘Yes, And’
The “Yes, and” approach to responding can be very helpful in finding common ground. It’s helpful for the simple reason that it affirms what the other person has just said.
The acknowledgement takes them out of argument mode and subtly shifts them to listening mode. Practice saying “Yes, and,” then practice thinking it. (Refer back to No. 6.)
8. ‘I Believe, I Think’
“I believe” or “I think” statements are, again, subtle verbal cues that tell the other person you’re not dismissing what they have to say outright. Hearing you qualify what you’re saying as opinion will make them feel like you’re not telling them they are wrong.
Flat-out telling someone they’re wrong is a super-fast way to shut down dialogue. (Even if they may be.) Steer clear of those definitive statements. If they’re going to come around to your way of thinking, it needs to be because they’re logically inclined to do so.
9. Speak With Clarity
Clarity means a couple of things. First, say what you mean. Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t insinuate. Say what’s on your mind in as diplomatic a way as you can.
Secondly, clarity means choosing the right words, tone, and volume. That way, everything is heard and understood. Nothing is open to interpretation.
The clearer you can be, the easier it will be to make progress, even if you are unable to find complete agreement. Say what you mean and mean what you say!
10. Do Not Complain, Do Request
Complaining is just bellyaching about what’s wrong or how unfair everything is. It does nothing to focus on solutions. What’s more, people don’t like being around complainers, unless they are complainers themselves.
But if they are complainers, they’re just that way to make themselves heard rather than to hear other viewpoints. They want you to agree with them. Anything you might have to say to the contrary is dismissed.
Every time you feel yourself about to complain on something, stop yourself. Instead, rephrase it into a request. For example, a professor wants to give you a test before going over the chapter. Instead of saying that isn’t fair, make a diplomatic request to have it be an open-book test. You might get a no, but you won’t be seen as a complainer, and that will go a long way in the professor’s impression of you.
11. Make Your Words Professional
Professionalism in language is important. It tells the other person what your motives are: solutions instead of arguments. This is so important in the workforce, and it’s something you need to practice on right now, wherever you are in your educational journey!
Professional language isn’t just steering clear of four-letter words. It’s also about choosing appropriate vocabulary, using proper grammar, and opting for the right tone.
12. Balance Eye Contact
Eye contact, especially in a conflict resolution situation, is one of those things that’s all about Balance. You certainly want to look the other person in the eye, but you want to be careful with how long you hold your gaze.
There’s also the level of intensity you give them in the look. Squinted eyes are more combative and confontational. Wider eyes can show fear. Practice looks in the mirror before confronting someone, so you know what you’re putting out there. It will help you control your emotions in the heat of the moment.
These Conflict Resolution Skills Will Prepare You For Your Career
We hope these tips for conflict resolution will at least make you think twice about how you’re perceived and what your words and actions are accomplishing (or not). Being right isn’t always the key to winning a conflict. Sometimes there are no clear winners and losers, nor should there be.
Keep this in mind as you encounter that next disagreement with someone. What are some conflict resolution tips that have helped you over the years? Share your tips in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by PicPedia Creative Commons]