Handling Conflict

Handling ConflictI got this from an acquaintance, Karen Hunter-Lowery, whom I’ve met on several occasions. I think you’ll find these points helpful and multi-purpose. You can apply these principles at work, in social settings, and amongst family.

Basic Truths About People

  1. Mood changes affect receptivity
  2. People have different working styles
  3. People are more sensitive than they seem
  4. Don’t judge a “book by it’s cover”

Needs (Personal)
Whether you choose to recognize it or not, we all have personal needs that, at a conscious and subconscious level, we need to have met. We all have developed habits to get these needs met in various ways. Some ways are healthy and some are not so healthy.

  • To feel valued, important, heard, and understood
  • To be involved in decisions that affect them
  • To feel cared about

Needs (Practical)
More commonly, we recognize our practical needs. These tend to be the ones staring us in the face when we wake up. These are often easier to see in others as well as ourselves.

  • Problems solved
  • Information and answers
  • To obtain products and services
  • Assistance in tasks

3 Conflict Traps
1) Having the Last Word
Maintain or enhance the self-esteem of others. They should not leave less valued after leaving my presence than when they entered it.
Listen and respond with empathy.
Involve them in the decision:

  • If someone feels bad, don’t rub it in.
  • If someone is embarrassed help them feel at ease.
  • If poor judgment, help them walk through the decision – it may have been a lack of knowledge.
  • Mistakes happen – don’t beat people up.

2) Saying “It’s all OK…”
There may be conflict in me that has not come out yet. It is not “OK”.
Sympathy or Empathy:

  • Sympathy – a shared experience.
  • Empathy – trying to understand another’s feelings.


  • Fact of the situation
  • Feelings caused by the situation
  • Listen with intent to understand, not to respond.
  • Listen silently.

Be assertive, not aggressive or passive.
Don’t try to smooth things over:

  • Acknowledge there is an issue.
  • Clarify the situation – probe if you have to.
  • Meet the need.
  • Confirm understanding and actions.

3) Not Wanting to Talk About It
2 Kinds of employees: Talkers & Walkers

  • Involve them in decisions.
  • Work with them.
  • Explain why I am doing what I am doing.

Finally, Take the HEAT
H ear them out.
E mpathize.
A pologize.
T ake responsibility.


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