9 Steps to Respond to and Resolve Conflict

Let’s take a peek into the anatomy of a bad day:

Basically everything that could go wrong has gone wrong today at work. You are walking to your car to head home, when all of a sudden, you hear a screeching thud, and look up. Derek, your not-so favorite coworker, is getting out of his car sheepishly. You see your beautiful little car-child, with a fresh black dent in the bumper. That stomach hitting the pavement feeling builds, and you walk over to obviously ashamed Derek. What next?

You could unleash the beast. Derek has been getting you off your groove for weeks now, and this is the last straw. Maybe he deserves this storm of emotional vomit! When immediate conflict arises, our gut reactions are instinctually emotional and often regrettable. However, these feelings are easy to act upon and require little mental fortitude.

Today’s post is meant to dive into developing healthy outlooks on those moments in life that are laden with friction and frustration. Here are some of my steps to moving forward in self-awareness and instilling growth into trying times. This is a place in my life that I have been struggling with recently, and felt it would be good to define my process to better understand what parts of resolving conflict I can also grow in.

  1. STOP, Breathe

To prevent the word vomit from spewing into your problem and consequently making it more difficult to come to resolution, focus elsewhere. For my loud mouth, this is the most difficult but most crucial step. Just for the moment, meditate; think about something that reminds you of the exact opposite of pure speech lava gurgling out of you.

  1. Isolate the Problem

Don’t bring up former issues into the present problem. It will be time to resolve those irks later, when you don’t have this large situation to deal with. Carrying emotional baggage was a choice you made before this untimely conundrum. You’ll find it works better to focus on what’s there rather than what was, in order to evaluate how to rationally act.

  1. Reflect on the Situation, Gather Information

Go into this situation by doing some research. Ask questions, like why did this person do what they did? What justifications does this person have? Is this a recurring problem or an isolated incident? These questions and thoughts can have you one step ahead of your mouth. So when you’re finally ready to communicate, you’ll be more likely to have something constructive come from it.

  1. View the Conflict From a Different Perspective

If we are powered by a bloodthirsty ego, we consider everything anyone else does wrong to directly insult “us.” But taking a step back and looking at the situation from even the perpetrator’s point of view has major benefits. Maybe it has nothing to do with you at all, and everything to do with them.

  1. Remain Humble and Neutral

If you feel wronged or slighted, an easy response is to act like the victim. A better solution, for your own personal growth and for the resolution of the conflict, is to try to find a neutral stance. I find this is easiest if I pretend what has happened did not directly happen to me, but rather someone I care about. I try to listen to other sides and remain humble by learning and understanding what I can from their positions.

  1. Offer your Best Solution First

Now, it’s time to move forward. How can all parties grow from this situation? Keep it simple and offer a clear, concise solution. Something that can work best for all, not just for you. Take charge and don’t sit back, allowing the situation to clear up itself. It’s your life, be a leader!

  1. Allow Contribution and Compromise

However, part of great leadership is allowing others the right to communicate freely and contribute to a solution. If someone has other thoughts, try to integrate them into your action plan, so they feel as though they had the ability to make things better as well. People generally feel better when they can help fix what they’ve broken.

  1. Respond with Action and Positivity

When you work through this problem, try to maintain an air of positive thinking. Our energy is so transmittable, and it’s difficult to stay truly upset when you are working with good vibes.

  1. Forgive, Make a Joke

The true resolution in any conflict, is finding a place of forgiveness, and moving forward. The path to forgiveness is not always an easy one, and I think understanding how to forgive can be a very unique and personal adventure. For myself,  I know I have truly forgiven a person when I can provide well-timed comic relief to replace any feelings of awkwardness or disconnect after conflict. I try to let it be an inside joke rather than a giant stab wound in my meaningful relationships.

As with everything in life, each sticky situation is inherently specific and maybe my advice is a bunch of fairy friend dust. I’ve gathered my ideas from personal moments of confrontation and hope you can share other tools that could help me become the best human I can be. Comment below your thoughts and ideas!

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