Conflict Resolution Part 1

I had this week an argument with a colleague at work.
We disagreed on the topic and I perceived the tone in her voice as aggressive.
I told her I did not like the tone she had and I left the conversation where it stood.
The day after I sent her an email about the situation the day before.
We finally apologized to each other.
Now the conflict is solved.

This situation made me think that I should share with you some tricks about conflict resolution because arguing is a good thing. Allow yourself to go in an argument if you feel like it. The ending is what counts.


1) Criticize the actions
The person is who she is. You have no right to judge her.
The facts are objective. You can evaluate their quality and compare the delivery to the original request. Your critics must focus on actions.
In my example, the tone of my colleague's voice changed from a sentence to another.

2) Talk about you and your emotions
You're not in the person's head. You have no idea what she thinks and why she reacts as she does.
But you know yourself and how you react. Talk about that!
In my example, I analyzed the tone of my colleague's voice as aggressive. And I did not like it.

3) Say what you want
It is easy to say what you do not want and what you dislike.
The other person needs specific indication about what you do want and what you expect from her.
In my example,
 I wanted to stop speaking with her the time she was using the tone I perceived as aggressive. I wanted her to use the same tone as previously in the conversation.

Calm down

4) Stay calm
If you feel that you are confused, take a break.
Keep a cool head when you are arguing. Structure your thoughts. It will help the other person to understand better your point.
In my example, I left the conversation where it stood and came back to my colleague the day after.

5) Apologize
The person argued with you because she interpreted one of your actions (words or behaviors) as a personal attack.
In my example, my colleague changed the tone of her voice because of what I told her. She interpreted that I meant she was incompetent. I apologized in my email for the formulation I used which was perhaps not the most appropriate one. And I reformulated my sentence assuring her I did not mean to attack her personally.

With those 5 steps, you will be sure to minimize and to dilute the frustration and the anger generated by the argument. Let me know about your successes in solving conflict in your comments!

Posted on September 6, 2014 .