Do you have a fear of conflict? Do you have a hard time not getting emotional during a conflict? In the Turner Syndrome Foundation’s (TSF) recent webinar with Janet Pfeiffer, President of Pfeiffer Power Seminars, LLC, we learned about strategies to resolve conflicts peacefully–every single time! Janet offered five simple and effective conflict-resolution tips that can help you and can also be taught to children, providing skills that they can utilize throughout their lives.
To learn even more conflict-resolution strategies, view the webinar recording, linked below.
What Is Conflict Resolution?
Before learning about Janet’s five conflict-resolution tips, let’s first examine what conflict resolution is:
- Conflict resolution is when you and at least one other person with opposing opinions or ideas try to find a mutually agreeable solution.
- Conflict resolution should done be without fighting or being aggressive in any way. Doing so causes arguing, which impedes finding solutions.
Five Tips To Help Improve Your Conflict-resolution Skills
1. Establish reasonable and agreeable boundaries.
When attempting to resolve a conflict with another person, it’s a good idea to set boundaries before the discussion. Both parties must agree on these boundaries. That way, there is less of a chance of the discussion escalating into an argument. These boundaries can include:
- how long you want the discussion to be,
- what you want to talk about,
- when you want to have the discussion, and
- where you want to meet.
2. Speak without offending, and listen without defending.
When involved in a conflict, avoid making personal attacks on the other person. Speak in terms of how you feel, rather than pointing out flaws in the other person or name-calling.
As a good listener, you should avoid becoming defensive. When you choose to listen to understand another’s opinion, you are more likely to respond with compassion. As a result, the other person will feel like their opinion is validated, and they will feel more comfortable with creating a resolution that satisfies both parties.
3. Ask yourself: Is what I’m about to say kind, true, and necessary?
There are three questions you should ask yourself before you speak: Is what I’m about to say kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?
To reach a peaceful resolution to a conflict, kindness is one of the most important things to remember. When you say unkind things, it causes the other person to become defensive and feel disrespected, which is a barrier to finding a resolution.
It is also important to say things that are true; otherwise, you should tell the other person that it is your opinion or perception. It is perfectly fine to share opinions, but during a conflict, you should remember that both parties might not agree on them, and that is okay.
Finally, ask yourself if what you are about to say is necessary. Janet advises that we often bring up unrelated information during a conflict, which can be a barrier to finding a resolution. By staying focused on the topic at hand and keeping it brief, we avoid saying things that are hurtful or that will escalate the situation.
4. Use the SWAT strategy to calm emotions.
During a conflict, we can sometimes become emotional, which can escalate the situation. It can lead to saying things that are hurtful to the other person and can prohibit us from being thoughtful listeners. This is a natural response, but emotions can get in the way to coming to an agreement. When this happens, Janet recommends the SWAT strategy: Stop, Walk, and Talk.
First, when you find yourself becoming emotional, stop the conversation. Explain to the other person that you need to take a break to calm down, and set a plan to return to the conversation or continue it another time. Then, walk away from the situation.
Next, talk to yourself or to another trusted individual about what you are feeling. What you say will either soothe or ignite your emotions. This way, you can work through negative or hurtful thoughts, rather than saying things you might regret. It can also be helpful to think or talk about the positive qualities of the person you are in conflict with, to remind yourself that you should be able to find a peaceful resolution with them. By following these steps, you can bring yourself back to a place of reason to return to the conversation.
5. When finishing the discussion, compliment the other person.
Tell the other party about the positive conflict-resolution qualities you saw during the discussion. Let them know that you appreciate how well they’ve handled themselves, how they’ve made the discussion a priority, etc.
Complimenting the other party in this way makes them more likely to participate in similar discussions in the future. This creates more possibilities for peaceful, equally satisfying conflict solutions for all parties.
Try the above conflict-resolution tips the next time you are facing a conflict with someone else. You might be surprised by how they can help!
Written by Elizabeth (Liz) Rivera, Turner Syndrome Foundation intern and blog post writer.
Click below to sign up for a recording of the webinar, The Conflict Resolution Solution, led by Janet Pfeiffer.