Conflict is inevitable.  Combat, however, is optional.  What’s the difference?  Conflict is about an issue, combat is personal. 

Most people are uncomfortable with conflict, but it’s really combat we should be avoiding.  Conflict can be extremely positive and productive.  It can lead to better solutions and outcomes if handled effectively.

So how do you effectively manage conflict so it doesn’t turn into combat?

1.  QTIP – Quit Taking It Personally!  99.9% of the time, when people are frustrated or cranky, it has absolutely nothing to do with you.  Is that an excuse to snap at you or be difficult?  Of course not, but it is what it is.  You can choose to take it personally, or you can choose to let it go.

2.  We all have different behavior styles.  Understanding the characteristics of each and understanding how to modify your approach will significantly reduce conflict.

3.  Use “I” language rather than “You” language.  Rather than saying, “You always turn things in late”, try “We agreed on a deadline.  What can I do to help you meet it?”

4.  Keep it about the issue.  As soon as you make the discussion personal, you run the risk of combat.  If you keep the conversation about the issue, you’ll reduce defensiveness.

5.  Paraphrase.  “What I hear you saying is ____.  Is that correct?”  This is one of the simplest, most powerful communication tools to keep conflict from turning into combat

Don’t let constructive conflict lead to destructive combat.  Try these techniques and let me know how it’s working for you!

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  1. This is so true Anne! I have moved to a different position within the same school district I work at, and there are two different ladies, that think it is all about them. One thinks she is a lot better than you, because she is a teacher, and will remind you to your place. The other one, is a secretary who loves to brown nose, and will do everything to make you look bad. I have been miserable because of these two women, that aren’t any better than I am, but I give them the power to be, by my reaction.
    THanks for this so much!!

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