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Geoffrey Milton

All About People

Need help to resolve your business, personal or employee conflicts & disputes?

Individuals Involved with Conflict

As someone who is in the middle of conflict you may be feeling a lot of different emotions. It's okay to feel anxious, upset, angry, frustrated and uncertain about the situation you are dealing with.

Managing conflict between individuals

Conflict and disputes are challenging and often difficult for individuals to manage on their own as our emotions tend to prevent us making sensible decisions about next steps and moving forward with the others involved. If you are faced with something which seems impossible right now, with some help and guidance, you can resolve this situation. We have put together a few helpful tips on what you can do to make things a little better:

  1. Listen and allow the others to talk
  2. Consider the trigger points i.e. what was being said or done and how each person felt
  3. Understand their points and issues
  4. Re-phrase your language
  5. Think objectively
  6. Consider what may benefit everyone involved
  7. What values, needs and identities are being challenged?
  8. What outcome(s) do you want to achieve?
  9. What messages do you want to convey?

People, relationships, communication, and conflict

Reducing the risk of conflict escalation requires consideration of how people and relationships work. This understanding can unlock the key to better dispute and conflict management, and avoidance.

There is a symbiotic relationship between behaviour and individual personality types

❝ When you understand personality preferences, you can more readily appreciate differences between you and people closest to you ❞
according to Myers & Briggs.

How to communicate better

Communication is an art and when done well it provides a foundation for positive relationships and fewer disagreements. Communication methods are both verbal and non-verbal and good communication requires an understanding of how different people communicate, as well as improving your own level of communication.

What are the 5 key methods of communication?

  1. Verbal: the spoken element of communication between two or more people.
  2. Nonverbal: these are the messages your body sends out, which may not match up with what is being said. Body language is essential to read when there is any form of conflict, argument or disagreement.
  3. Written: conflict can be reduced when something is in writing. However, if the document is confusing, poorly written, complicated, or incomplete, this can cause misunderstanding and conflict to arise.
  4. Visual: some people prefer to see things in a visual form (such as pictures, infographics, charts, and storyboards) and this is preferred to lengthy written or spoken information.
  5. Listening: active listening is a fundamental element of good communication. This means not being distracted and paying full attention to the verbal and non-verbal aspects of what is being said.

How to be a better communicator during conflict

  • Keep information to the basics and remain as objective as you can be.
  • Share feelings in person and not in writing. Emotions are better read by the recipient through your body language. Avoid reacting or causing the need for an immediate reaction. Always take time to reflect on how you feel and how the other person may be feeling or respond to what you say and do.
  • Keep complex information in a written and clear form. Do not attempt to deal with such information in a purely verbal form. The recipient will need time to absorb and process this information and a reasonable time in which to respond.
  • Keep it simple. When you are in the midst of conflict it is important to refrain from overly complex and emotive arguments. Be clear about what you want and how you see everything moving forward in simple steps. If needed, break the actions down into smaller tasks or outcomes. Any final agreement should be kept jargon free and in plain English with clear action points and identifying key people to take responsibility for each.

The impact of different cultures and backgrounds on conflict resolution

Conflict and culture are intrinsically linked. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, culture is 'the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society.' People like to be associated with others who share the same values and principles and will respond to situations in accordance with these and their background and experience.

Understanding more about the cultural differences of those around you will help you identify more relevant ways in which to engage in meaningful discussion about resolving any issues which arise. More importantly, you will be better informed about how to act and communicate with people from different cultural backgrounds, which will reduce the risk of conflict arising in the first place.

Use respectful language and ask questions about how those around you would prefer to communicate and whether there are any elements to your situation which need to be considered in a respectful way to their culture.

Managing conflict where a business is involved

Business related conflict can either be consumer related (the purchasing of goods and services from a business) or between two or more businesses which have contracted for the provision of goods or services.

With such arrangements, the first step is to review any agreed or standard terms and conditions. This should indicate or set out the process for resolving any issues. If there are no or inadequate terms, for consumer related matters the next step will be to consider any complaints procedure and follow this fully. This should encourage initial dialogue with an identified person or team to raise any concerns or complaints.

Where a business-to-business related issue arises, contact the contracting business to discuss the matter and attempt an informal way to resolve this. If you are unable to do so, escalate the matter to a more senior representative. If you are unable to make progress or the outcome is not satisfactory, you may need some assistance or intervention. This should be considered before commencing a formal process such as litigation.

Where intervention or assistance may be needed

AAP can help you with the key points above and will give each person the time they need to talk and be heard, as well as facilitate a conversation about how you might want to fix things.

If you are dealing with difficult situations or people who are not listening to you, think about making use of the above guidance and encourage them to do the same. Perhaps agree some ground rules as to how and when you will communicate and what the topics will be, as well as what will not be included in your conversations. If you are struggling to have a conversation but think some assistance may help, speak to us and we will gladly talk you through your options and can help by speaking to the others involved too.

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Strategic Advice and Guidance for you and your organisation. Our accreditations:

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Cinergy Certified Conflict Management Coach logo

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CEDR Accredited Mediator