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How to Effectively Clarify Conflict

Before you consider engaging in a conflict, you need to decide whether it’s worth confronting the situation, or whether it’s better to just walk away from it. In other words, you need to pick your fights wisely. So before entering any conflict, you should consider a number of factors:

  • your intention — You should pursue a conflict only if you have a good reason to. Ask yourself these questions: Do I genuinely want to improve the situation? Do I want to change the person? Or do I just want to prove that I am right and the other person is wrong?
  • the importance of the relevant issue — If the subject of a conflict is trivial or unimportant, you should walk away. Ask yourself honestly whether the matter is really worth pursuing and whether it’s likely to happen again.
  • the impact of the conflict — If the problem is having a significant impact on your work, it’s worth addressing. Some problems and differences may appear minor, but if you consider them together, they may indicate a wider pattern that needs addressing. It can help to step back and observe the cumulative effect a problem is having on you and others.
  • the potential for change — You should avoid confrontation if you know that addressing an issue probably won’t change the situation — or won’t change it in a positive way. This is especially true if the issue revolves around someone’s personality traits.

Along with these factors, another question to ask yourself is “Do I have all the information about this issue?” To avoid potential embarrassment, it’s important to get all the facts before you jump into an argument. If you do need to engage in a conflict, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the issues surrounding it.

To do this, you should:

  • determine what is causing the conflict,
  • identify the needs and interests of those involved, and 
  • consider the future.

Determine the cause

The causes of a conflict are not always apparent. In fact, it’s estimated that often up to 90% of a conflict’s cause can be hidden beneath the surface. So to resolve conflicts effectively, you need to look at both the apparent and underlying issues.