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Managing conflict in a healthier way

Couple with backs to each other in bed because they cannot resolve a conflict

Our NLP practitioner Shelley Edwards offers some pearls of wisdom on conflict. Read on if you tend to avoid it, or you know you could handle it better…

Have you ever had to manage a difficult situation? I suspect the answer is yes as conflict is very common in our day-to-day life.
How do you think you did?
Some of us like conflict, some of us hate it. But the truth is that as we meander through life we will come across it.
Some of us are very good at managing it and some of us will run and hide.

There are four levels to conflict:

  1. Violence

  2. Anger

  3. Annoyance

  4. cIrritation

 

Conflict has a way of growing and taking on a life of its own as it escalates. I invite you to think of times in the past where there has been conflict, at home, work or socially.  Maybe it was when you were a customer or just driving down the road.

How do you think you handled it?
What could you have done better?
How would you do things differently if it were to happen again?
What are the key things you learned from it?

There are five methods we can deal with conflict:

  1. Competing

  2. Accommodating

  3. Avoiding

  4. Collaborating

  5. Compromising

It is important to note that when we communicate with others we judge ourselves on our intention but others judge us on the impact that the communication has. Let us look at those five methods in more detail:

COMPETING
Key features include:

  • My interests at your expense!
  • Power oriented
  • ‘I win’ situation

This style in which one’s needs are advocated over the needs of others relies on an aggressive style of communication. There is low regard for future relationships and the exercise of coercive power. Those using this style tend to seek control over a discussion, in both substance and ground rules. They fear that loss of such control will result in solutions that fail to meet their own needs.

ACCOMMODATING
Key features include:

  • Focusing on other people’s concerns over and above your own needs
  • Could be self-sacrifice, obeying or giving in

Also known as smoothing. People using this style yield their needs to those of others, trying to be diplomatic. They tend to allow the needs of the group to overwhelm their own, which may not ever be stated because preserving the relationship is seen as most important to them.

AVOIDING
Key features include:

  • ‘Head in the sand’ approach
  • Conflict is avoided at all costs
  • Side-stepping, postponing and withdrawing

A common response to the negative perception of conflict.  We say to ourselves.”Perhaps if we don’t bring it up, it will blow over”  Generally all that happens is feelings get pent up, views get unexpressed, and the conflict festers until it becomes too big to ignore. Like a disease that may well have been cured if treated early, the conflict grows and spreads until it kills a relationship. Because needs and concerns go unexpressed, people are often confused, wondering what went wrong in a relationship.

COLLABORATING
Key features include:

  • Working together for a solution
  • ‘Win Win’ situation
  • Exploring, listening, learning
  • Solution focused

The pooling of individuals’ needs and goals toward a common goal. Often called ‘win-win problem-solving,’ this style requires assertive communication and cooperation in order to achieve a better solution than either individual could have achieved alone. It offers the chance for consensus, the integration of needs and the potential to exceed the ‘budget of possibilities’ that previously limited different views of the conflict. It brings new time, energy, and ideas to resolve the dispute meaningfully.

COMPROMISING
Key features include:

  • Finding the middle ground
  • Splitting the difference

This style is an approach to conflict in which people both gain and give in a series of tradeoffs. Whilst satisfactory, it is generally not satisfying. We each remain shaped by our individual perceptions of our needs and don’t necessarily understand the other side very well. We often retain a lack of trust and avoid risk-taking.

Which method do you tend to use?

Obviously when we collaborate we get the win-win! Compromising may also be a good alternative. But the less we compete, accommodate and avoid when it comes to conflict the better it is for us. Many people need help with managing conflict at home and at work and it is my pleasure to be able to coach, train and mentor people through the good and the challenging times in all areas of their life.

If you would like to get in touch, I offer a free, no-obligation 20-minute phone consultation to discuss your needs and requirements. Give us a call on 01590 670955 and we’ll set up a call with Shelley.

To find out more about NLP coaching or book an appointment with Shelley click here