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.

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 them competently.

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 up conflict.”

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 your breathing.

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.

Leaders’ Techniques
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. Krasnoyarsk.

This article originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

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