Spring Cleaning; Nip Conflict in the Bud!

With the New Year, comes the promise of new hope and new beginnings.  However, it could also mean repeating old habits and avoiding the same old patterns unforturnately.  How about a dose of spring cleaning before March comes around?  How about openning that old closet, and taking out the baggage that is taking unneccessary space there?  By baggage of course we mean issues not the Samsonite kind.  One of the reasons we all love spring is because nature is rejuvenated and new buds are flourishing everywhere.  Why not apply that to our lives?  Groom the old, and invite freshness and hope in to our lives.  You know that topic, relationship, or issue you have been harboring?  How about you nip it, do something about it and start anew?  don’t be part of the 95% statistic that has a fear of conflict.  

Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship. We’ve all been witness to or been a participant in a situation where two or more people have had clashes in their ideals, and we’ve also seen, how without the proper intervention, how quickly it can turn into intense personal animosity.

Conflict is one of the most misunderstood topics. The reason for that is because many people incorrectly assume that conflict always ends negatively. Whether among colleagues, friends, or couples, unless one has absolutely no opinions about anything, nor any ideas to contribute, nor desires or preferences, or a personality for that matter, at some point in time, they will be faced with a situation where they will be in a disagreement with someone else. Yes, that’s correct, conflict is exactly that; disagreement(s).

Unfortunately, the fear of conflict leads many individuals to choose the path of least resistance and avoid facing the underlying issues leading to conflict. However, this is not really a solution.  It is simply a derailment or delaying the inevitable.  Unless, the individual has absolutely absolved the issue at hand on their own, the avoidance ultimately could mean two things: a. that they are tolerating it without understanding it, which will eventually lead to resentment, or b. that they falsely believe they have “tried” to resolve it and hence give up on the idea because they feel defeated.  Sound familiar?  well, that’s because it happens everyday in marriages, family relationships and offices.  We know, because it always eventually finds its way to our offices, and we eventually sit at the same table with it.  And trust us when we say, status, or position or academic background don’t make it any better.  In fact, research shows the higher one goes up the ladder of an organization, the lower the leader’s practiced EI skills could become.  

The truth is that conflict doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. Oh, and another thing: different personalities don’t have to mean unresolved conflicts. When resolved effectively conflict can in fact,lead to more cohesion, and trust in the relationship. In a sense, there is a feeling of being understood which can only result from a place of self-awareness and problem-solving attitude. There is a sense of confidence and self-efficacy because the dialogue involved in correct conflict resolution provides insight into the fact that one is able to achieve one’s goals without undermining others.

In interpersonal relationships of all kind, there is an increased sense of mutual respect, and a renewed faith in the relationship when people work things out. Research has shown in fact that a woman’s perceptions of intimacy in a couples’ relationship after a conflict has been effectively solved.

On the other hand, we have also seen some individuals who are too ready and eager to get in to conflicting situations. If you have ever seen or been one of these people, it is important to know that picking battles is very important. The reason for this is that a large part of effective conflict resolution comes from aligning goals. An individual with strong interpersonal skills or more specifically one with a strong background or training in Emotional Intelligence, has a good temperature read for what is a situation that needs attention and conflict resolutions strategies and one that needs more of a come in to terms strategy. Good conflict pushes individuals to examine their goals and expectations closely, helping them assess what is, really important to them. This also means, the sense of surrendering parts that are driven by ego or selfishness.   If the perception that others have of you is that you like to “pick fights” like the Grouchy Ladybug (we use this book in our training because it does a great job of demonstrating the concept, making it very succinct to relate to), then unfortunately, it will be interpreted that your goal is not conflict resolution but perhaps conflict in an of itself. In this circumstance, you are in a sense inviting ego, selfishness or self-preservation to step in and block any openness to negotiation.

Yes, conflict can be damaging. If not handled effectively, it can quickly turn into personal attacks, break down of trust, and disengagement from work or the relationship.  One major culprit is low emotional intelligence (EQ).

The key is to nip it at the bud. The downward spiral can be stopped if the correct interventions and communications are utilized and key processes are put in place.

Here are some specific steps that we have incorporated into our conflict resolution programs:


At the inception of conflict, people can quickly become entrenched in their positions. Soon, tempers and voices rise and defensive or aggressive behavior gives rise to uncooperative body language. Therefore, the first step is to separate the people and the emotional components from the problem and instead focusing on just the problem itself. The priority is to develop an understanding of the other’s position, and together reach a consensus.

The prerequisite to this of course always is to listen actively and empathetically, have a good understanding of your body language, and understand how to employ good emotion regulation including anger management techniques. Then, in particular, here are the steps:

  1. Decide whether the outcome or the relationship is the priority.
  2. If you decide that the relationship is the priority, ensure that you treat the other person with respect at all times and do your best to discuss matters constructively rather than in a way that leads the other person to react.
  3. Actually try to understand and listen to the other point of view.
  4. After understanding the point of view carefully, you should be able to understand, what the other person fears is at stake for them.
  5. Many times, just by getting to this step, you may realize that there was either a misunderstanding from the other person’s side, or that by giving them assurance, you can both be happy.  
  6. If not, then lay out additional facts, and review what both of you believe they are.
  7. Now provide solutions. And use the process of elimination to . Explore each of the options together and have an exchange as to why one option is better than another.
  8. Come to agreement. If you have followed all the steps and come this far, the last thing you want to do is assert your solutions is the better one. If you believe it is, you should be able to sell your position. And yes, in case you were wondering there is selling in negotiation.

Nine out of ten times, you can seriously prevent bad conflict from exploding in your face by using the above steps. Otherwise, chances are you may be faced with an opinion conflict, which usually means agreeing to disagree.

Real conflict resolution is not based on rank, or social standing, or other forces at work, but real dialogue. Both parties have to be willing to put the effort and the time, and be ready to surrender their position if proven wrong. But in matters of opinion, rather than fact, we always say, you are entitled to your opinion and leave it at that.


We are not the jack of all trades. But we are the conflict resolution experts. So when and wherever, feel free to reach out to us directly at (407)340-1228 or by info@centerforworklife.com