LinkedIn Artikel - How to handle conflicts and the relation with yourself

Conflicts often come up at crucial moments; when there are certain expectations and or disappointments. Emotions then play increasingly a bigger role, points of view polarize and the dialogue often escalates.

How do you then convey your message to the other party during the conflict?

What would be the best way to bring across your point of view? It is all about the right usage of words, tone, attitude.
Certain words and tone may cause escalation of the conflict.
There may be a big difference between the way you want to come across and the way the other party perceives you. However, when emotions take over, people forget staying reasonable and have problems taking into account the feelings and, at the same time, the point of view of the other party.

The following conflict patterns are very typical and will make a conflict harder to solve. These patterns tend to come up in all conflicts and everybody may recognise themselves in them:

1) A criticising, disrespectul or contemptuous attitude

"You are always late!"
"Your work is full of mistakes, as usual you are always sloppy"
"Nobody wants a colleague like you"

This pattern includes negative feedback on actions but can also attack the other party personally.

By continuous negative feedback, a conflict will escalate further. The other party will feel unappreciated or even denigrated. His/her attitude will become defensive and, generally, (s)he will start to aggressively retaliate the other as well.
This pattern will not lead to a solution, it will create no goodwill and parties stop really listening to one another or lose effort to understand the underlying motives.

When expressing a discontentment, anger is involved. If criticizing or correcting somebody‘s actions is necessary, think of the following: "C‘est le ton qui fait la musique" and expressing yourself in the following ways may lead to better communication. Use the "I”-form (I feel / I hope / I understand / I …) instead of the "you" form:

  • "I feel that my effort is not being valued" (You don’t value my effort)
  • "I understand that you find your work unpleasant" (You find your work unpleasant)
  • “I am disappointed about your lack of motivation” (Unfortunately, you lack motivation)

Try to repeat what the other person is responding or saying: "do I understand that you are angry at the fact that I was not there last week?"

Avoid attacking the party on his personnality and rather try to put a positive point / perception / appreciation in your dialogue

Never use the words ´always” / “never” / “ever”

2) Non-verbal negative communication

Shaking your head, rolling eyes, looking into another direction. Also, not reacting; ignoring what the other party says.

3) The cold treatment

React as if all is OK, swallow your words but starting a cold war towards the other until one day the relation will explode or die a silent bitter death.

4) Aggressor / victim

People, who only start defending themselves, dive into a victim role and do not want to look at their own behaviour; they have a tendency making others responsible for unfortunate events;

"I have not been able to meet the deadline because I had to wait for my colleagues and they always start too late with their assignments because they do not take my suggestions seriously"

Better would be: Admitting one has not been able to meet the deadline and mention that one will try to solve the problems which occurred as soon as possible. Pointing an accusing finger usually leads to more conflicts and poisons the atmosphere between team-members

Communicating is something everybody can learn

Positive respectful communication us the basis of healthy relations in your professional and private life! Each person can analyse his own traps in a dialogue or conflict: they become often a habit without thinking about them.

A certified mediator or conflict-coach can help you to develop these techniques or help to solve an escalated conflict between parties as a third neutral.

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