How To Avoid Letting Conflict Ruin Relationships

As I have written before, conflict can be a good thing. In many cases disagreement can lead to better ideas and solutions. Conflict within yourself can teach you how to handle adversity and build resiliency.

Conflict, if left unaddressed, can also lead to destruction of quality results, good teams and precious relationships.

When a situation deteriorates to a point where two people are not speaking to one another or heavy friction is causing a toxic environment, someone has to step forward and do something.

But….what to do?

Step One: Take a neutral position if possible

This may be hard and you may need a neutral third party. It does no good to only see things from your perspective. Do your best to get to a place where you can see partially where the other person is coming from and how they see it.

Step Two: Diagnose the issues

Conflicts over work items are healthy, but behavorial and motivational conflicts are not. These call for education, review and possibly intervention. Where is the rub?

Step Three: If the parties are willing, you can ask these questions for clarity on why and how the conflict is occuring:

  1. Which one of my behaviors is causing the conflict & damage in the relationship?

  2. Which of the other person’s behaviors is causing the conflict & damage in the relationship?

  3. Would you be willing to work on pulling back that particular behavior if the other person is willing to as well?

This works well if both parties are committed to caring about each other, the team and the cause enough to make adjustments. It must be a mutual agreement based on mutual effort. It may take time, but if both are putting forth effort, each of the participants will gain new respect for the other and build on it.

If no resolution is in the cards, it is up to the leader in charge to make the tough call about which person is going to stay and which is going to go. Allowing conflict to go unresolved helps nothing and no one. Hopefully, willing parties would take this model to heart for each other to work toward a healing solution and healthy relationship for better results.

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