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Let's do this! How to resolve a conflict

Conflicts are going to happen. Different people want different things. But it doesn’t mean we can’t figure things out and work together. “Conflict is a natural disagreement between individuals or groups whose attitudes, beliefs, values, needs, personality, goals are different,” said Sum Sovannpanha, local committee president of AIESEC Phnom Penh. In sociology, conflict is defined as an antagonism and opposition between interests and principles among people. Common day-to-day disagreements, debates, and even wars and revolutions are all examples of conflict on different scales. It is impossible to live in this world without experiencing friction with other people in places such as school, work or even within your circle of friends. In fact, conflict is something that we invariably run into every single day. Instead of avoiding it, you might as well face it head on and look for effective ways to resolve it.

One of the first steps in resolving a conflict is finding the root cause of the problem. Conflicts can result from the differences in people’s personalities, underlying stress and tension that people already have, too much self-defensiveness or a breach of faith and trust between individuals. By understanding what is really causing a conflict, we can know how to react in a manner that helps to solve the conflict effectively or possibly to prevent it altogether.

For example, your colleague just had an argument with his wife at home and then carries this stress and frustration with him when he comes to work in a bad mood and scolds you about your work when you haven’t done anything wrong.

Remember that when you squeeze an orange, you get orange juice. Why? Because that’s what is inside it. Similarly, when you squeeze a person who is angry, you get what that person is holding inside. So in this case, your colleague’s anger towards you may have nothing to do with you at all; it’s simply a reflection of the stress already happening in their life. This knowledge makes it easier for you to respond in a more tempered, appropriate and responsible manner. If you do not understand this important principle, you may react to his anger with similar anger, elevating the situation to a conflict.

Emotional intelligence is also a effective tool in resolving conflict. Being a good leader is about having high emotional intelligence, which is a measure of your ability to do four things: Know yourself, control yourself, empathise with others and understand how you are seen by others. When solving your own conflict or helping others to solve theirs, you should listen to them attentively to understand what they are really saying, not only the bits and pieces you want to hear. Identify their feelings and try to understand how they feel and why they feel that way. Put yourself in their shoes and see if the situation appears different to you than it did before. Using emotional intelligence in solving conflicts benefits everyone involved. You will find out that you will have fewer upsetting conflicts, and your relationships with the people around you will be much improved.

Perhaps the most difficult way to solve a conflict is to be the stronger person and step up to force an analysis of the nature of the conflict. Some people cut off their verbal communication when they have problems. They do not talk to each other and therefore no solution is ever found. Verbal communications help you clarify the confusion happening between you and the person with whom you have conflict.

Sum Sovannpanha mentioned that when he faces conflicts, he first analyses the cause of them, and then asks himself “What result do I want from this conflict?” After that he can start seeking feasible win-win solutions and find the right time to step up and resolve the conflict. He added that if that does not work, he needs a third party to help. “Talking first to the person whom we have conflict with does not show that we are weaker. In fact, we are stronger because we act as the problem-solver,” Sum Sovannpanha said. By doing so, we are challenging ourselves and improving our problem-solving skills. We are learning a new life lesson.”

Ultimately, there is no best way to solve the conflict unless you really want to solve it.



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