Join Craig Runde for an in-depth discussion in this video Using constructive responses, part of Improving Your Conflict Competence.
- Some types of behaviors can cause conflict to escalate, and others can help to resolve it. Let's look at how you can use constructive behaviors to get better results in your conflicts. We'll start by identifying some of these important constructive behaviors. Next, we'll investigate when and how you can use them to address conflict, and finally, we'll go over some obstacles that can make it difficult to use these behaviors. First, let's start by looking at some key constructive behaviors.
One of the most important ones is trying to understand the other person's point of view. Conflict communications consist of talking and listening, and of the two, listening is usually the most important. It can help you discover important information that will enable you to develop solutions to the problem. The second behavior is being able to share your own thoughts and feelings. It's important for both parties to understand each other, if they're going to solve their common problem.
The third behavior involves developing and vetting possible options or solutions for the conflict. Once you understand each other, you still need to develop answers to address your differences in a way that works for both of you. Now that we've identified key constructive behaviors, let's go over how to use them. To understand the other person, I recommend two approaches. Before you talk with them, consider how they may be seeing the conflict. How might they be thinking and feeling about it.
This process, called perspective taking, can help broaden your understanding of the conflict. When you're actually talking with the other person, try to listen carefully, to understand how they see the conflict. You don't have to agree with them, just try to understand them. We will explore this process in more depth later in the course. When you share your own thoughts and feelings with the other person, you help them have a better understanding of your views. People can usually share their thoughts with others, but many have difficulty sharing how they feel about the situation.
They feel vulnerable sharing their emotions. At the same time, these provide important information about what matters to you. If you suppress these feelings, they will likely come out later anyway, often in angry or passive-aggressive ways. When you and the other person have a better understanding of how you're each seeing the conflict, you're able to begin developing possible solutions to it. I advise trying to come up with ideas that work for both of you, a win-win approach.
If someone wins and someone loses, the outcome is less sustainable, and the relationship can be harmed. Try looking at this part of conflict management as a collaborative problem-solving session. The two of you are working together to solve a common problem. Finally, let's address some obstacles that can get in the way of using these constructive behaviors. Negative emotions present one of the biggest challenges. If you're angry with the other person, you may not want to understand their point of view.
You may be guarded about sharing your own thoughts, lest they use what you say against you. Finally, we may see them as an adversary to beat, rather than someone to collaborate with to come up with solutions. So, regulating your emotions can be a crucial step to enable you to use constructive behaviors. Attitudes can also get in the way. If you view conflict as a contest to be won, then collaboration will not be high on your list, and use of constructive behaviors may be overlooked.
If instead you can see conflict as a problem to be solved, and the other person not as the enemy but rather as someone you can work with to mutually solve the problem, you'll be more open to using constructive behaviors. Constructive behaviors help you get better outcomes from conflicts. They can improve relationships, because they demonstrate respect towards the other person. Increasing your use of constructive behaviors will enhance your conflict competence.