CONFLICT MANAGEMENT IS ABOUT EMOTION MANAGEMENT

03. May 2018 / general
resilience

Few people like conflict – but we are, nevertheless, confronted with conflict situations on a regular basis and they tend to consume a lot of energy. It is therefore important that we learn how to avoid or resolve them. Let’s begin with the most important point: Conflict management is ALWAYS about emotion management. So how can I manage my own emotions and those of the other person involved in a conflict?

“Studies have shown that managers spend up to 30% of their time resolving conflicts and that around 15% of a company’s total work involves conflict resolution,” says Ursula Wawrzinek, a German conflict resolution consultant and author of a book on how to deal with stubborn or overly sensitive individuals (“Vom Umgang mit sturen Eseln und beleidigten Leberwürsten“). Based on my own experience of offering conflict coaching, I believe she is right. Even if you are not a manager yourself, you are likely to be confronted with conflict situations time and again. The difficulty this poses is that conflicts tend to consume a lot of energy and to preoccupy us even after the matter has been addressed, meaning that they have a long ‘half-life’ and continue to drain us of energy.

Why do conflicts even occur? Thomas Hobbes, a 17th century English philosopher, cited three main reasons for this: Competition, a lack of self-confidence, and a thirst for recognition. In other words, he believed conflicts were not attributable to purely factual causes. The two parties usually argue about a certain topic but the real reason lies elsewhere. That is a crucial point if you want to resolve conflicts (see my next blog on May 22) or – better still – avoid them.

 

Avoiding conflict

What can I do to avoid conflicts wherever possible? Here is an example: If you want to discuss a topic with a colleague at work, choose a good time to do so. Your colleague should not be angry, stressed or under time pressure – and neither should you – or it will not take much for the ‘pressure cooker’ to explode. Before you approach the other party, consider what your real motive is and why you want to hold a discussion. Do you just want to get something off your chest? Do you want to clarify something? Or do you want to improve your relationship with the person you are talking to? The latter would of course be the ideal scenario.

What tips should you consider for an effective discussion in order to avoid conflict wherever possible?

 

 

The way you communicate

It is also advisable to use a range of non-aggressive forms of behavior:

 

 

It is not only what you say that matters in a conflict. Body language also has a big impact on the way a message is received by the other person (you can read more about this in my blog post on the subject of communication). You should therefore pay attention to the following aspects:

 

 

The person you are speaking to notices everything – whether consciously or subconsciously. And his interpretations of what is said and what he has seen have an influence on his emotions and consequently on his reactions. Next time, I will talk more about how you can influence your own emotions and those of the other party if a conflict has already broken out.

 

© Claudia Kraaz

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