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Three Rules for Better Conflict Conversations

Three Rules for Better Conflict Conversations

By: Ross Paterson

Conflict can’t be avoided, and it can’t be won (see our previous blog). Arguably the most complex of human interactions, we have all experienced poor conflict skills in our families, neighborhoods, and at work.

Here are a few simple rules to follow that will lower conflict and drama in your teams.

#1  Make sure they hear from you first

We expect this from others, but rarely practice it ourselves. We have all been part of intense emotional battles that stemmed from a simple misunderstanding.

#2  Prepare for this conversation

Think about how a 3rd party observer might see the current situation, then humbly approach the person with the goal of resolution, not victory. If you are riled up physically, wait until you can calm down (next week’s blog)

  • Start with what matters most: long term relationships
  • Say what you mean: don’t make them guess
  • Describe the situation and how it made you feel
  • Do not present your conclusion as truth: frame it in the form of a question
  • Share how you formed the conclusion
  • Don’t use always/never language


#3 Find a mutually trusted advisor

If we can’t find resolution, choose a trusted mentor, advisor, or other 3rd party that doesn’t have a stake in the outcome.

Conflict Conversations are frequently a series of conversations, that eventually create the possibility of resolution, and then forward progress. The process will take longer when the stakes are higher.

XM Truth: The bigger person, the more emotionally intelligent leader has the obligation to start this process.

Give it a try, let us know how it goes.