The Art of Resolving Conflicts
Conflicts can be productive, but it is essential that employers and workers alike understand conflict resolution strategies to ensure disagreements don't become destructive.
- By Julia Polyakova
- Sep 01, 2008
Quarrels at home, while driving, and at work sometimes
escalate into dangerous and violent arguments. Those
caught in the middle—including co-workers, family
members, and emergency responders—are at high risk.
It is well known that the whole world develops due to conflicts.
Conflicts on the job between colleagues often
occur because people come to their offices in different
moods—bringing their off-work concerns
with them—or there is a competition between
them. But we shouldn’t fear these collisions.We
can use conflicts for our benefit if we learn to handle
There are some symptoms of “unhealthy” relations
in almost any group of people. Think of the
verbal disagreement when one person says “yes”
but another says “no.” People frequently would like
to talk to each other and clear everything up, but
they cannot find a suitable situation or time and
never have that conversation; this is called “blowing
Some individuals are constantly seeking adversaries.
They oppose everybody and are secretly afraid
of being hurt. Such employees could be the instigators
of various conflicts. Besides the symptoms of a
bad psychological atmosphere that are sometimes evident, there
may be gossip, suspicion, and distrust.
In creative groups, conflicts about new ideas often appear.Here,
it is important to stay calm and listen to another side.
How to Behave During Conflicts
Everyone’s first reaction to a collision is to avoid it. But if that doesn’t
work, we start thinking the situation over, again and again, taking
part in mental dialogues with the opponent. But constant worrying
destroys a human being.A long-lasting conflict influences
your physical and psychological health.As a result, you can become
uncertain and unsatisfied.Your vitality may go down. Extra tension
can “beat” any body organ: Blood pressure may increase, and ulcers,
insomnia, and headaches can ensue if the anxiety persists.
As a conflict begins, participants can try to disconnect from it.
Yet every difficult situation in our lives is a perfect chance to develop
new relations and to change something in ourselves. It is important
to understand your own position and interests and those of
the other person (the “opponent”). This may help both of you to
come to an agreement, and then the conflict will be exhausted.
Here, both sides will gain confidence and safeguard their health, as
well.Any need to irritate the other and initiate collisions is gone. If
you are able at this higher level to appreciate what is going on, your
rage will turn into power, and annoyance will go away.You will gain
greater respect toward yourself and the other person.
Making Changes in Ourselves
Our reactions can be controlled and changed. One of the useful
recommendations for behavior during a conflict is to balance
To start, it is advisable to learn to watch your body’s reactions.
When we’re irritated, our breathing is held and then becomes more
rapid. If you don’t know what to do, put the accent on breathing in.
If you’re excited or annoyed, focus on breathing out.
Deep breath in and out again, several times. This
technique helps at work.At home, you can take a
shower, imagining you are under a waterfall and force
yourself to take 108 steps at a measured pace. (This
is an old Russian method of clarification.) There are
some more-effective ways of getting rid of rage:
• Imagine the stream of negative energy coming
out of your body and going into the ground without
any obstacles. Breathing helps here. Every exhalation
is a release.
• Imagine that you reflect all of your rage onto
an imaginary screen.Visualize that you are taking a
ray gun and firing at the screen.
Some people in communicating are malicious
and hostile toward others. In reality, it is not the information
that hurts us, but the energy—the emotion
it carries. The information may even be useful.
You should protect your inner balance. For this
purpose, place an imaginary glass pane between yourself and
your “offender” through which you are able to hear all information,
but your irritation sticks to the glass as mud and flows down
to the ground.
A leader can undertake measures for controlling conflict within his
or her team. First, the leader should learn how to forecast when and
where a conflict can happen. This makes it desirable for any boss to
get to know the employees individually, to study the psychological
atmosphere in the office or workplace, and to communicate with
the workers. It is essential to act justly toward the whole group and
toward individuals at the same time.
Training in effective leadership skills, communication techniques,
and conflict resolution is available from many sources.You
can learn how to build and maintain a harmonious corporate culture
that serves the interests of the enterprise and empowers the
employees, making them more efficient in the bargain.
This article originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.