How to Resolve Conflict – A Key Leadership Skill – Part 2

In order to achieve success in our business and career, we need to work effectively with people.

In Part 1, we pointed out the need to stick to the following helpful conflict resolution guidelines:

• Make the relationship your priority. Be respectful of the other person and his or her viewpoint.

• Focus on the present, on what you can do in the here and now to solve the problem.

• Pick your battles. Consider whether the issue is really worthy of your time and energy.

• Be willing to forgive. Resolution lies in releasing the urge to punish.

• Know when to let something go. If you can’t come to an agreement, agree to disagree, disengage and move on.

Communication Points to Remember

7% of your communications are accomplished through the words that you use.

38% of your communications are conveyed by your voice.

55% of your communications are conveyed by your body language.

Voice and body language are controlled by your state (a soup of your attitudes, world view, intentions, and emotions).

Helpful Questions to Ask

If we’re sure a conversation is going to be tough, it’s instinctive to rehearse what we’ll say. But a difficult conversation is not a performance, with an actor and an audience. Once you’ve started the discussion, your counterpart could react in any number of ways – and having a “script” in mind will hamper your ability to listen effectively and react accordingly. Instead, prepare by asking yourself:

1. What is the problem?

2. What would my counterpart say the problem is?

3. What’s my preferred outcome?

4. What’s my preferred working relationship with my counterpart?

You can also ask the other person to do the same in advance of your meeting.

Optimists tend to assume that every disagreement is just a misunderstanding between two well-intentioned people; pessimists may feel that differences of opinion are actually ill-intentioned attacks. In the fog of a hard talk, we tend to forget that we don’t have access to anyone’s intentions but our own.

Remember that you and your counterpart are both dealing with this ambiguity. If you get stuck, a handy phrase to remember is, “I’m realizing as we talk that I don’t fully understand how you see this problem.” Admitting what you don’t know can be a powerful way to get a conversation back on track.

Resolving conflict starts with a sincere desire to achieve a win-win situation. If you keep that in mind, both of you will.

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© Rich Kohler 2017. All rights reserved. For copies, please contact Rich at

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