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Not sure what it is at the moment but there seems to be a lot of conflict happening around the place. There is unavoidable conflict within the workplace, in relationships and in service exchange. After all, you have different personalities with differing sets of values, goals and beliefs interacting with each other. Conflict is inevitable right?

The conflict I have been hearing about and observing is Inner Conflict. The conflict that we create for ourselves when we are avoiding dealing with a situation. In most cases, we avoid dealing with a situation as it may involve confrontation. So we internalise the issue, stewing on it, allowing it to bubble away, brewing…until it explodes! Exploding in an uncontrolled barrage of emotional blur! Or, we will passively aggressively 'take it out' on the other party creating all sorts of confusion as they have no idea why we are being the way we are. Worse still, we will moan and groan to others behind the other party's back! All because we do not want to have a conversation that may be hard or may involve hurting another persons feelings.

Many I have spoken with are in this place and it's not a good place to be in. There is a real perception about 'confrontation'. Many fear that it may be an angry confrontation or result in a fight. In actual fact it does not and can depend upon the way that you handle the situation. Below are some pointers for you to release the pressure valve and assist you in having a constructive solution focused conversation with the other party.

  1. Do not have the conversation when emotional. A big no! Wait some time until you can think it through rationally and see the logic, rather than the verbal barrage of abuse you would prefer to deliver to the other party! If you are dealing with a passive personality or an aggressive personality, this is only going to end in tears or a black eye!
  2. You can only control yourself. By this I mean, you can only control your emotions, tone, body language and content of your discussion to try and get the best outcome. You can not control how the other party will react. If you have some idea how they will react, you can tailor your approach appropriately. This depends on their personality so you may spend some time reflecting on this. If you have no idea, just be honest, focus on the facts and do not start the conversation with "This is all your fault. You…". If the conversation does get emotional, walk away and advise you will come back later to discuss when they have calmed down a bit.
  3. Be constructive. Approach this as a constructive conversation of feedback. A nice way of saying that you are providing some feedback to another person that is more than likely uninvited so you may need to start with some positives. As I used to call it, the feedback sandwich of 'Pat, pat, Kick, Pat'. Start with positives, provide the constructive feedback and provide another positive through your solution or path to move forward on.
  4. Plan your outcome. What is it that you want as a result of the conversation? Banking on an apology or the other person accepting responsibility for the problem is not an outcome that you can control. What is it that you want as a result of your conversation? An opportunity to strengthen or rebuild the relationship, to try another approach, to establish a new goal to work towards. What is it for you?
  5. Be solution focused. Do not go into a conversation focused on the problem. You are looking for a solution to move forward with. You certainly need to mention the "issue" and how it's not working between you and the other party if it is something they have no idea about, but ensure you then move forward. Have a couple of solutions that you have already thought of and ask for the other person's suggestions also.

These tips are useful whether you are a leader in an organisation or a business owner with a team of people or client base. It is useful if you are an employee or an employer. It is useful in relationships, parenting or friendships.

The critical thing is that you have the conversation and allow the other person the right of reply. And it is just that – a conversation. How you determine the conversation in your mind will determine the conversation proper. Release the internal conflict that you are creating for yourself and air your concerns. You'll be amazed how much better you feel and more than likely amaze yourself with the outcome. The success may not be immediate, it may happen in time, but it will happen. In most cases, the other party will appreciate your honesty, whether they tell you that or not.

"Don't be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against; not with; the wind."Hamilton Wright Mabie


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