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10 Conflict Resolution Skills You Must Have


Conflict resolution skills
Conflicts refer to a serious disagreement or argument that have lasted long enough to result in physical and/or emotional violence. Disagreements are part of normal life and as long as two people are different from each other, there are going to times when these disagreements will become dominant.

Conflicts have formed a major part of our lives as individuals beginning from the home, into learning environments and the workplace, so much that possessing conflict resolution skills has become a highly sought-after ability for all leaders and emerging leaders.

So much as we cannot totally avoid the emergence of conflicts in the workplace, the home, and the socio-political terrain, pushing on to find ways to effectively manage conflicts will be our next line of action.

To talk about the importance of conflict management, we must be aware of the consequences of conflicts when not properly managed. And on the other side, the post-conflict period - a time when a conflict has been fully managed, is usually more interesting and peaceful for all the previously conflicting parties. But well-managed conflict is based on the ability to understanding both sides of the disagreeing parties and effectively settling them on a ground of common understanding.

I have been involved in conflict resolutions a lot. I have great interests in conflicts and conflict management because I realize that most of the problems of society, the home and the workplace are based on the outcomes of poorly resolved or unresolved conflicts. 

Why Are Conflicts a Normal Part of Co-existence

Conflicts are considered normal parts of every relationship, be it in the home, the organization and the workplace. And you may want to ask why? People have differing opinions, ideas, concept and reasoning patterns and if they are ever going to come together, a part of these differences must surely find a way to become expressed. 

Strangely true, but these opposing views by different people have formed the core of their beliefs and self-conviction as humans. So they too believe that their views could be helpful too. Conflicts arise in any place where two or more people are expected to live together or share something in common. And if you may know, one best way to avoid conflicts if to not share anything with anyone, to just be yourself and by yourself. However, in a world like the one we live in, you can barely live a day without interacting with someone else, even in the prison.

Types and Examples of Conflict

Conflicts come in various forms, shapes and sizes. Well, not really geometric shapes and sizes though. But some forms of conflict can look so hidden to third-party observers. Such that only a keen person would notice that there is something wrong between the contending parties. While other forms of conflict would be so obvious and associated with direct or indirect violence. 

In the fictions, you see 'conflict' been classified into the following classes;

  • Man vs Man
  • Man vs Self 
  • Man vs Machine
  • Man vs Society
  • Man vs Nature
  • Man vs Destiny
  • Man vs Supernatural

But I'd leave these for the literature and hit the nail on the head on the kind of conflict that relates to us as humans so closely. That is the conflict between man and another.

Before we go on to the types of conflict, it will be important we do so for different levels of human co-existence including the home, the workplace and the community.

Conflicts in the Home

  • Conflicts of interests
  • Duties and division of labour
  • Availability
  • Money needs and wants
  • Ideas and communication
  • Dispute resolutions

Conflict of Interests

Conflicts of interests are by far some of the commonest types of conflicts in scenarios when some resource or space have to share. This can be especially experienced between siblings, between a couple or between parent(s) and child(ren).

Duties and Division of Labor

In the home, labour has to be shared between all capable members of the family. However, conflict may arise if the labour is not appropriately distributed, either by exempting a capable hand from work or by making one work commensurately more than the other(s).

Availability

Conflicts of availability are seen when one of the family members is consistently absent from the home. It becomes a worrisome thing for the other members who may need the company of the absenting member of the family. For example, a parent who is always never available for the children or the spouse.

Money, Needs and Wants

If I say that this is the commonest cause of conflict in the home, I will not be so wrong. Will I? Needs are many, each individual with his/her own needs and want. If needs are not met, that could be a major cause for conflicts in the home. Needs could be financial, emotional, supportive, etc.

Ideas and Communication

People have different ideas and views about things. Conflicts could arise from disagreements in ideas and manner of reasoning. Good communication helps to solidify the unity of understanding between individuals in the home. It makes you realize that in the midst of the different ideas and opinions, there is, at least, one common belief you both or all share. However, a break in communication is characterized by a lack of understanding and the emergence of serious conflicts.

Dispute Resolutions

Disputes and small conflicts are a normal part of our lives as humans but the manner with which they are handled or attended to will greatly determine what happens next. Most conflicts in the home and the world today are results of improperly resolved disputes. This is especially important in the home in cases of small disputes between siblings.


Conflicts at the Workplace

  • Ideas
  • Position
  • Duties
  • Communication
  • Dispute resolutions
  • Remuneration and offers
  • Manner of approach

Ideas

Conflicts of ideas can also be seen in the workplace. Here, varying ideas are expressed by the co-workers and in times when the individual views are being accounted for, a conflict may arise when the view of some of the workers is neglected while others are accepted.

Position

In organisations where a clear cut hierarchical position is not enforced, there could be a serious power struggle. In most of those cases, age becomes the only criteria left in determining who is senior and to whom. However, the workplace is not and should not be ruled on the basis of age or chronological seniority instead a system of ranking and hierarchy would help reduce much of the conflicts that may arise due to struggle for position in the workplace.

Duties

Just like the home, co-workers also desire that work be apportioned appropriately. On the grounds that co-workers are being paid similar salary or wages, they expect that no one should lazy around, leaving the whole job for them alone.

Communication

Communication in the workplace is very essential because communication helps to facilitate the spirit of unity, creates a serene environment for progress and development and also further understanding, unity and reduce conflicts in the workplace. However, when there is a problem in communication or lack of understanding between the co-workers, conflicts are bound to arise.

Dispute Resolutions

This is similar to that of the home. We cannot guarantee that the workplace will be dispute-free but what happens next is determined by how these disputed were handled. When disputes or disagreement occur between two or more persons or group, a third party, in this case, you, must be sensitive and skilled enough to resolve it without causing more hitches. Some of the worst conflicts are those that result from inappropriately settled disputes. 

Remuneration and Offers

This often causes a conflict between workers and employer, instead of between co-workers. When workers do not receive incentives, or when they are deprived of a promised offer, it could be an important cause of conflict, especially between the workers and the employer.

Manner of approach

In the workplace where the relationship between staff and co-workers is usually only corporate and business-oriented, manner of approach matters lot. This is particularly because, in such business environments, gestures which may be tolerated in the home setting could be perceived otherwise.

Conflicts in the Community(local or global)

  • Authority and power
  • Communication
  • Ideas and cultures
  • Leadership
  • Resource management

Authority and Power

Nations and countries have very minimal things in common, and by this, I speak in terms of economy, government and resources. They are independent of each other but indirectly depends on each other. In recent times, a sense of global threat has warranted nations to enter a race of power and authority, such that different forms of conflict have arisen from this. The quest for power and authority thus becomes one important cause of conflicts in the international community.

Communication

At the inter-country level, or even at lower geopolitical levels within a given country, language barriers has become one important cause of a break in communication, and consequently resulting in conflicts.
Secondly, because of the lack of mixing or interactions between states and/or countries, the ground becomes very conducive for conflicts to emerge from.

Ideas and Cultures

Different people, different culture and different ideas. There would be no real problems if they were to remain independently on their own but the global community is built on the framework of inter-dependence. And during these interactions between the different people, conflicts may arise when there is an attempt to exchange contrary ideas, opinions or cultures.

Leadership

Good governance has remained the greatest pivot for national development. Citizens of most countries and states of the world have resorted to violence and extreme conflicts because the leadership of the day have not proven itself worthy. Leadership problems are one of the commonest causes of conflicts in the world.

Policies and Regulations

Countries may make policies and new regulations. When some of these policies directly or indirectly affect citizens and the international community negatively, they may perceive it as a threat and resort to conflict. 

Resource Management

Resource management has to do with the effective utilization of the human and natural resources that have been endowed to a given country. This reflects in the rates of employment and unemployment, allocations of resources, and sharing of dividends of the resources gifted to the people by nature. This can pose a potential problem and ultimately result in conflict in the community if these resources are not managed effectively and efficiently.

Outcomes of a Well-managed Conflict

People who are trained to resolve disputes between conflicting parties, otherwise known as mediators or arbitrations, often view conflict as a means of achieving a more lasting peace. The truth is conflict itself is an undesirable entity, but the post-conflict period(the period after a conflict) is usually very blissful until probably another one resurfaces. So, until an interaction or relationship passes through all the stages of conflicts and survives, it cannot be certified strong enough.

Just before we look at the 10 conflict resolution skills you must have, below are some of the good outcomes of a well-resolved conflict;
  • There is more lasting peace and harmony
  • There is a better understanding
  • Both parties now know how to do things better
 
These good outcomes of a well-managed conflict are based on one principle - that when gold goes through the furnace, it comes out well-refined. In analogy, when a relationship goes through the conflicts and survives, the bond is stronger. However, most relationships between people do not survive the conflicts because of two main reasons;
  • One or both are not committed to end the conflict and move on together 
  • A third party individual could not solve the case well enough
However, this second point involving the input of a third party is very important, because even when two people, co-workers or communities are committed to resolving their conflicts, the actions of the third party could ruin things up. Almost always, is third-party is usually involved in settling disputes so there is running away from this fact.
The problem, however, is you could be that third party individual on which the outcomes of things rest upon. That is why you need to covet these conflict resolution skills. 
Relationships are all around us as humans. You could be that middle man, mediator or arbitrator in your home, your company as the employer or between nations in one way or another. Do you think the world will be safer if you allow every conflict to escalate beyond where they should?

What are these conflict resolution skills? Lets quickly hop into them now.

10 Conflict Resolution Skills You Must Have

  1. Listening
  2. Fairness
  3. Diplomacy
  4. Empathy
  5. Appropriating punishments
  6. Ability to Unite
  7. Getting the right information
  8. Bravery
  9. Understanding
  10. Patience


Listening

In my previous post on why you should be a better listener, I emphasized the importance of listening in many different areas including conflict resolutions. Listening skills are by far the most required in settling disputes and conflicts. And its basically just about listening to both sides well enough to understand them both before you begin your resolutions. Most of the times, both conflicting or disputing parties actually have many things in common, they just don't understand each other. 
Sometimes, the lack of understanding causes the grieving party to think that the other individual or group is not putting their needs first. Understanding the importance of listening and actually practising it will enable you to realize that sometimes the intentions of the other individual are good but they do not have the means to meet your needs as you desired.

Fairness

Good listening breeds fairness. Fairness is the virtue of dealing judgments without fear, favour or power of affiliations. When you are biased in your judgment, the individual whose emotions you have hurt may keep still but they would most likely harbour the pain and make the conflict a life-long one. In this case, you have done more harm than good.
It is necessary to always, and I repeat, to always put both warring parties on a fair balance, at which point you realize that the party that ends up being the guilty one would gladly accept whichever punishment you rule on them because they know that you were fair in your judgment.
One good way to make them see that you are an "unbiased umpire" is to point out where each and every side of the conflicts acted wrongly. And truthfully, in most conflicts, both parties have some share of the blame.
Diplomacy is the act of dealing with people in a sensitive and tactful way. It is the profession, activity or skill of managing international relations and settling disputes between countries and nations. It is a very subtle method of influencing the decisions of foreign governments and peoples through dialogue, negotiations and other means without engaging in any form of violence.
This skill is of great use in foreign and international relations and has become a highly sought after skill in that terrain.

Empathy

Empathy is your ability to feel what someone feel or see things the way they do. It is simply "stepping into the person's shoes" and seeing things from their own perspective. When people see that you want to understand the way they feel, that is, you are open enough to share their feelings, they naturally become more honest and trust you. This is important in resolving conflicts.

Appropriating Punishments

Have you ever seen someone go angry because you didn't punish someone else for the wrong they did against them? This is especially common in the home setting where one child would want another who wronged him/her to be punished accordingly. As simple as this may be, this can be a cause of serious, long-lasting conflict in the home. It is not as if to say you cannot temper justice for mercy or just ignore some wrongs sometimes, but it becomes a problem when one child begins to perceive that you, as a parent, favours one child over them.

Ability to Unite

Resolving conflicts is not just about stopping the fight. It's about uniting the conflicting partners back together again. If you resolve a conflict between two people and you perceive that they are going to resume the fight after you leave, then your work is not yet fully done. To many people, this is a difficult task. They find it really difficult to settle disputes, sometimes they even tire out and give up on the conflicting partners so they can do as they please to themselves. However, this is a skill that can be learnt. It only depends on your ability to listen effectively, be empathic and to obtain a few other additional skills.

Getting the Right Information

In your quest to know what really caused the conflict, you will need a great deal of analyzing and filtering of what they have. It is not disbelief or only a little. But the fact is nobody in their right frame of matured mind, tells the story too straight forward to go against themselves. So, in order to arrive at the truth, you must be very keen on what they have to say and how to say it. One problem with this is that if you are not careful enough, you would think they are not saying the truth even when they actually are.

Bravery

Are we both clear conflict resolution can be scary sometimes? Having to go in-between two people who are warring against each other is no joke at all and you must be brave enough to be seen as strong and capable of settling the dispute. Bravery is not a skill in itself, but a character or attitude. But in this regard, let's take it as a skill that is required of every third-party middle man who is in for dispute resolution.

Understanding

I may have said a little about understanding already but suffice to add that understanding is the virtue of knowing the true meaning of what people communicate to you, either in words or actions. If you understand peoples words or actions, you would live more st peace with them. This is because most of the actions of other people may be unpleasant to you but their intentions may not be to your hurt. When you understand this, you would quickly overlook their actions as mere mistakes.
However, this can be applied in conflict resolutions when you look into the matter to understand what and why they did what they did. Much like empathy, it consolidates the trust they have for you.

Patience

Patience is a virtue, that is, patience is a valuable quality. Your ability to wait to fully listen to both sides of the story is a virtue indeed. Apart from listening to them, you would also need to learn to tolerate some of their actions that have the tendency to upset you. For example, when they keep roaring accusations and insults when you have asked them to hold their peace in silence could really upset me, I don't know about you. However, patience teaches us all that we can hold ourselves back and not get upset or frustrated at the actions and words of the conflicting parties. This is one of the most required skills in conflict resolution.


What Lack of Conflict Resolution Skills Has Caused?

The problems that cause the most pain are those that are preventable but occurred anyways. Lack of conflict resolution skills amongst individuals at all strata has led to many different problems that could have been avoided in the first place. What are some of the problems that have arisen due to a lack of dispute or conflict resolution skill?
Wars, famines, quarrels, unrests, violence, hatred and animosity, and so on, have been caused by improperly managed pre-existing conflicts. Hence, it is important to learn how to resolve conflicts between two disputing parties or between oneself and another person. 
Stay peaceful, and don't forget to drop some good comment below.

Prosper Yole

I am a lifestyle blogger, I write useful articles on successful life tips and hacks. Posts bearing Prosper Yole as author are either written by the blog author himself or by our various other contributors. Thank you for reading through. I look forward to having you more often. Please subscribe to my feeds below...