Conflict Management: What is all the Fuss About?


Conflict is inevitable when dealing with people, especially during times like these. Conflict refers to a seemingly, serious disagreement or argument. Conflict may arise in all relationships as people do things together. It is not likely to create a world without conflict, but conflict should not always be a bad thing. Part of being human is having different points of view or different wants and needs than others. The problem isn’t the conflict itself; the issue is how you deal with the conflict. It is important more than anything, to recognize how you should manage conflict when it arises.

In order to effectively manage conflict, you must utilize effective communication skills. Being aware of your body language and listening are very important. Often during a conflict, people will dig in and refuse to work towards a solution. This is called establishing willingness blocks. Willingness blocks are things that make you resist working things out.

Common Willingness Blocks

  • I want to be “right” and show the other person is “wrong.”
  • I don’t want to look weak.
  • I feel like people take advantage of me if I compromise.
  • I don’t like the other person.
  • I’m afraid of looking stupid.
  • I feel too angry to deal calmly with the situation.
  • I want to take things out on the other person.
  • I want to get even for something the other person said or did.
  • I don’t know how to change. Fighting is the only way I’ve ever dealt with conflict.

Resolving Conflict

In order to resolve a conflict, you must be willing to assess your own personal feelings and behaviors. Have any of these ever been the reason or a cause for your anger or root of a conflict you’ve had?

  • You needed to relax or to relieve tension.
  • You were angry at someone else.
  • You were trying to fit in with a group, to impress other people.
  • You wanted to feel important, and to show power.
  • You were depressed.
  • You were feeling weak and tired.
  • You were feeling very lonely.

6 Step Process for Resolving Conflict

  1. Cool Off : Conflicts can’t be solved when you’re both mad. Take a step back and take a deep breath before trying to work things out.
  2. Explain What Bothers You by Using I-Messages: Explain the way the problem makes you feel and what you are thinking. Say “I feel _____ when you _______.”
  3. Restate What the Other Person Is Saying : Tell the other person what you think you heard or what you think they meant. It shows you are trying to understand what they’re feeling.
  4. Take Responsibility: Take blame for some of the problem; it’s not always just one person’s fault. You need to be willing to see that you’ve done something wrong.
  5. Brainstorm Solutions: Think of the things that would make everyone involved in the conflict feel better. Compromise is important!
  6. FORGIVE and LEARN: When conflict comes to an end, you can’t hold a grudge. Appreciate coming to a compromise. Learn from the experience. Be sure you’ll know how to better react next time!

Using I-messages

As mentioned above, one great strategy for effective communication, especially during a conflict is using I-messages.

When using I-messages you should do the following:

  • Talk about yourself, about what you feel, need, want, and think. "I have a problem, I feel angry.
  • Begin your sentences with "I", rather than with" You." “I feel like I’m being picked on when you fuss at me”
  • Use neutral language and be as specific as possible. “I got angry when you forgot to take the trash out" provides specific information about how someone's action made you feel.
  • Do not call names, blame, characterize, or judge.
  • State your positive intentions to resolve the conflict. "This difficulty between us really concerns me. I think if we sit down and talk, we can make things better.”
  • Tell the other person that you want to listen to his or her viewpoint.

Watch these short videos demonstrating the benefits of i-messages.

For additional strategies and ideas, please click on the publication LSU AgCenter Pub 3224 – Work it Out.

4/16/2020 7:08:38 PM
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