Conflict Resolution Strategies
“If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great.” –Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own
Resolving conflict is often a difficult, time-consuming, and emotional endeavor even if there isn’t something extremely serious (like settlement money or a divorce) at stake. Given this, how can we hope to resolve conflict if we’re either one of the parties involved or if we’re to be the mediator or arbitrator in the case? Here are some strategies you can implement to help you become better at conflict resolution.
What is Authentic Listening?
Authentic listening occurs when you respond to the speaker in ways which indicate to them that you care about what they’re saying and give them every opportunity to complete their train of thought. Authentic and empathic listening are wrapped in the same cloak. The idea is to let the speaker know — without a doubt — that you are focusing your attention on their words and feelings with the specific intent to understand their point of view.
Learning to listen authentically will literally change your life. Here are some of the many benefits of authentic listening:
- You will become more attractive to others and they, in turn, will be attracted to you.
- You will learn much about the human condition.
- You will glean important information about a person that others may miss.
- You will appear thoughtful and intelligent; it’s impossible to showcase your ignorance when your mouth is shut.
- You will be practicing self-control and self-discipline, which are always good things.
- You will substantially improve your relationship with every person in your life, whether business, familial, or friends.
- You will be more confident and have more control of yourself in conflict settings.
- You will develop greater self-esteem.
How Do You Listen Authentically?
There are specific strategies that are regularly employed in authentic listening. Do not underestimate the simplicity, the significance, and the excellence of these techniques.
- Close your mouth. Authentic listening and talking are mutually exclusive.
- Don’t predict or judge the outcome or argue with the speaker mentally. Get out of your head and get into theirs. If you’re already planning out what you’re going to say to them once they’ve finished, you aren’t listening authentically.
- Watch your body language. Does your posture indicate you’re interested in the speaker? Are you maintaining eye contact with them? Are you nodding when appropriate, smiling or otherwise physically communicating your attention to what they are saying?
- Ask questions when you do not understand something or need clarification. The last thing you want to do is end up in a Serbian Bog.
- Put on their shoes (figuratively, of course). Put yourself in the other person’s place mentally so that you can better relate to their point(s) of view.
- Control your emotions. Better yet, leave them behind. Your worries, fears, problems, and emotions prevent you from listening authentically.
- Listen to what is not being said. When you are listening authentically, you have the wonderful opportunity to “fill in the blanks” in the speaker’s communication. Often times, what is not stated by the speaker is more important than what has been said.
- Listen to how something is said. Inflection, intonation, and strength of the speaker’s voice may tell you more about the speaker’s personality and values than mere words.
- React to the ideas the speaker is stating, not to the person specifically. This technique is especially helpful when you don’t particularly like the speaker. Remember, you don’t have to like someone to learn from them but you cannot learn from them without listening to them authentically.
- Be consistent. Practice these techniques in every communication. Ask the speaker if they felt that you had “heard” was the point they were trying to communicate.