To resolve a conflict, you need the other person’s cooperation. Because you cannot demand or force cooperation, you have no control over how the other person will respond to your efforts. As a result, you cannot single-handedly resolve a conflict. You can, however, learn communication, influence and conflict resolution skills so that you can confidently engage in a conflict conversation with the hopes of leading to a successful outcome.
As I help clients work through conflicts, I see lack of confidence as a major obstacle to successful resolution. In fact, I see it as a major driver leading people to communicate either too passively or too aggressively.
People who lack conflict confidence tend to either retreat or attack when the pressure hits, and those approaches lead to:
- Distractions that take the focus off of the work that needs to get done
- High levels of stress and anxiety
- Lost time as people avoid each other or delay conversations
- Damaged relationships
- Reduced esteem for the other party
- Lack of respect for different viewpoints
- Distrust of motives and intentions
If you opt for the passive/retreat approach, you let conflicts fester and you rarely reach resolutions before the conflict becomes toxic. If you go for the aggressive/attack approach, conflicts turn into heated arguments (or all out fights) and resolution is even harder to reach.
People with conflict confidence, however, realize that conflict resolution usually lies on the other side of a successful conversation between two people with different viewpoints. They seldom see conflict as a battle between right and wrong. They are able to plan for and engage in the dialogue without attacking the other person or retreating prematurely. As a result, people with conflict confidence:
- Get more done
- Feel less stress
- Save time
- Have better relationships
- Are more admired
- Gain more respect
- Build deeper trust
As you continue to learn and grow as a leader, I encourage you to focus on developing your conflict confidence (that is, being able to confront issues directly without losing your cool) so that you can resolve issues quickly, before they threaten teamwork, morale or productivity.