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How to Collaborate in Conflict Situations

Your first step in resolving a conflict should be to determine the best time and place for a discussion. You should also allow plenty of time for the discussion so that everyone has a chance to air their views and work on reaching a solution.

Typical types of responses

People naturally respond in different ways to conflict situations. Four typical types of responses are:

  • forcing your point,
  • accommodating the other person,
  • compromising so that each party gives up something, or
  • collaborating to find a mutually beneficial solution that will improve the situation for everyone.

No one approach to conflict is always best. Instead, each conflict situation is unique, and the situation will determine the most appropriate response. In general, collaboration is the most effective response to a conflict and should be used wherever possible. With this “win-win” approach, you include all parties to try to find solutions that satisfy everyone. Collaborating creates partners rather than opponents — it’s based on an “us versus the problem” rather than a “you versus me” mind-set.

Listen acceptingly

To collaborate effectively, you need to listen acceptingly to the other person, describe your views constructively, and find a mutually beneficial solution. Sometimes people have a lot on their minds, and this makes it difficult for them to listen properly. But to find solutions to a conflict, you need to understand the problem — and knowing your own position gives you only half the picture.