Join Craig Runde for an in-depth discussion in this video Defining conflict competence, part of Improving Your Conflict Competence.
- Conflict is a part of our everyday life. At home and at work we regularly have differences with others that can lead to conflict. For most of us, these conflicts can make life difficult. How can we deal with these situations in more confident and effective ways? In this video, we'll define what it takes to improve your conflict competence so that you can get better results from conflict. The three main steps are understanding conflict, managing your emotions and engaging others constructively.
The first step, understanding conflict, is largely a cognitive or thinking function. It includes recognizing the value of dealing with conflict effectively, uncovering conflict attitudes, learning conflict dynamics, and understanding your own responses to conflict. Without appreciating the value of managing conflict effectively, you're less likely to spend time improving your skills. Recognizing your current attitudes about conflict will uncover perceptions that affect the way you address conflict including ones that will keep you from dealing with it well.
Learning the dynamics of how conflicts unfold helps you develop a roadmap of conflict so that you can see how you can intervene at different points. Finally, understanding how you currently respond to conflict allows you to recognize your strengths that you can leverage in the future, as well as areas you need to improve. The second step, managing your emotions, is all about being able to cool down when you become upset in conflict settings.
It's natural to experience emotions in conflict. Emotions can alert you to important information about situations, yet, when they become strong in conflicts, they can sometimes drive you to act in ways you might later regret. Learning more about trigger emotions can help you prevent from getting caught off guard. Developing techniques to allow yourself to regulate those strong emotions, can help you regain composure when they arise. Creating strategies to buy extra time provides you with breathing room to reflect on how best to re-engage with the other person during conflict.
The third step towards conflict competence involves engaging others constructively. You do this by learning constructive behaviors to use when communicating with another person in conflict. These behaviors will help you understand the other person's point of view, enable you to share your perspective, and set you up to be able to craft collaborative solutions that can work for both of you. One of the most powerful constructive behaviors is listening for understanding.
Making the effort to understand the other person's perspective on the conflict, can help you learn more about the situation. It can also serve to calm down the other person as they get the chance to share their thoughts and feelings. In addition to using constructive behaviors, it's also important to avoid using destructive ones. It's easy in the heart of conflict, to react with angry outbursts, or passive-aggressive types of behaviors. It may even feel good in the moment, but it almost always escalates or prolongs the conflict.
Finding ways of substituting constructive responses in place of those destructive behaviors helps move conflict towards more successful outcomes. As you improve your personal conflict competence, you'll be able to help others resolve their disputes. You can model effective behaviors for employees and colleagues. You can coach them to respond more effectively and facilitate discussions between people who are having a difficult time resolving a problem on their own.
You can also help create a climate on your team or in your organization that fosters more constructive resolution of the inevitable conflicts that will occur.