Conflict Resolutions for 2013 and Beyond.

January 3rd, 2013

I don’t really do New Year Resolutions and generally don’t like lists so I thought a list of resolutions would be an excellent idea!

A resolution is defined as a “firm decision to do or not to do something”. Here is my list of things that I have made a firm decision to do (at various times and not just for New Year).  I hope that you find this list useful and that it will help others to improve relationships and to positively manage conflict.

  • Take time to engage – Invest time in really listening to and getting to know those that work with you. If you can build trusting and collaborative relationships conflict is far less likely to arise in the first place as the ability to have open and honest conversations will be enhanced.
  • Say thank you – Such an easy thing to do and so effective.
  • Say sorry – In a conflict situation, what most people want is some form of an apology; an understanding of the impact on them and an acknowledgement of the others contribution to this. This can be very powerful in resolving matters. We all know how the nursey ryme, “words can not hurt me but sticks and stones can” goes, but as Ken Cloke points out, “words can hurt but they can also heal”.
  • AND, AND, AND – Particularly when giving feedback or delivering a difficult message, far better to adopt the “And” stance rather than the “But” stance which tends to promote a defensive reaction. The “And” stance involves for example, explaining the action and why AND I understand how you feel/impact AND understand your position AND etc etc.
  • Breathe – It might sound obvious as we all need to breathe to survive. In this context I mean breathe to compose yourself, reduce the impact of stress and give yourself time to think about how best to respond.
  • I am responsible for my happiness – Whatever we might think at certain times, we (not others) are responsible for how we feel.
  • It is better to be happy than right–  Often (perhaps always) getting hung up on the truth and being right gets in the way of resolving issues and maintaining effective relationships. Often it is said that “There are three truths: My truth, your truth, and what really happened”  so how do we determine what is really right in any event?
  • Validate  rather than justify  – I think that this is the single best bit of advice to de-escalate situations. Validation requires enquiry and obtaining further information about the issue before defending your own position.  It closely follows Stephen Covey’s  Habit 5 of Highly Effective People 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood.
  • Be  Curious – This could be an extension of the above but particularly when dealing with difficult conversations, be curious about the other persons point of view. Being curious avoids getting stuck in truth, intentions and blame and enables you to gain a real understanding of others interests.
  • Listen – Really listen to others; do not multi task  when listening as it does not work. Listen to the words but also to the emotions  and feelings behind them. This takes time and effort but it is worth it.

I hope that my list helps in managing positive relationships and resolving conflicts in 2013 and beyond and take this opportunity to wish all of my readers a peaceful and happy New Year.

If you would like further guidance on Having Difficult Conversations and How to Manage them my next seminar on 28th February may be of interest. For full details see

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