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Mediation and Business Consulting by Kathleen Kauth.

1. a serious disagreement or argument, typically a protracted one.

2. be incompatible or at variance; clash.

When people hear the term "conflict" they often times assume it is something that will bring them stress and should be avoided.  When in reality — avoiding conflict tends to make it worse!  Conflict in and of itself is neither good nor bad.  How one chooses to deal with conflicts will result in either positive or negative results.  

Conflict is at its' essence a friction point between two or more people about the nature of an issue.  When that friction is discussed and addressed — it creates understanding and movement to a decision.  When that friction is ignored — action is either not taken, or action is taken with only one side's viewpoint being considered  

Dealing with conflict

Conflict can be viewed as constructive when issues that cause conflict with are dealt with directly, and immediately.  This is a choice.  As humans, we have a tendency to want to avoid that which might cause us pain.  But avoidance of an issue allows the issue to grow (at least in importance in your brain) and it weakens the person who is doing the avoiding.  

Conflict resolution is something that needs to be learned and practiced!  When you have muscles you want to develop — you don't avoid the gym.  Conflict resolution is an emotional and intellectual muscle to develop and it doesn't happen without actually standing firm and engaging in conflict.

Calm, confident and low-key

When you address conflict early, you are able to stop it from growing into a bigger issue.  When you treat an issue as if it's not a big deal — it takes away some of the emotional power attached to it.  Here are some tips to help:

  1. Acknowledge that you have a differing opinion or take on a subject.
  2. Treat it as if it is an intellectual curiosity, rather than something you are gearing up to fight over.  When the emotional intensity goes up in one person, the other reacts instinctively, and now you have two (or more) people who are ratcheted up!
  3. Ask questions about their stance, and ask that they listen to yours.
  4. Write things down!  It is too easy to forget exactly what is being said.  When there are misunderstandings or mis-remembering, it can increase the tension as well.  Writing things down also tends to slow things down.  This is a very good technique to use because it gives everyone a chance to process information a bit better.
  5. Ask that the other person work with you to find a creative solution or understanding.
  6. Know that you may not ever agree — but rational adults can disagree successfully and make well-thought out decisions.

Stick your neck out 

Don't be afraid to be the one to try to work out conflict.  And don't be afraid to try different techniques of conflict resolution.  Every human comes with billions of experiences that shape how they view conflict.  One size doesn't fit all, and you should consider practicing different techniques so that you can adjust to whatever situation you find yourself in.

The goal of conflict resolution is to identify the actual issue and come up with solutions that work that all parties can support.  Not everyone will always be happy, but when people feel that their issues are being taken seriously and they have a say in the actions taken, they are much more likely to be committed to the resolution.  


Kathleen Kauth

Kathleen Kauth is President/Owner of K.T. Beck Enterprises, LLC a Mediation and Business Consulting firm which focuses on using Mediation techniques to help individuals, families and businesses resolve conflicts. With areas of interest in Eldercare and Business Mediation, we are able to provide a wide variety of personalized services.   MORE >

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