Conflict and resilience – What’s the link?

February 20th, 2020

How is it that some people can bounce back from life’s difficulties whilst others struggle to do so? Similarly, some can move on from conflict situations seemingly with ease while others find it much more difficult. This blog explores the link between resilience and conflict resolution and how to improve resilience and the ability to positively manage conflict.

What is resilience and why does it matter?

A definition of resilience is:

“That ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes.”

Image of people overcoming hurdles

The following factors are said to contribute to and be an indication of resilience:

  • The capacity to make realistic plans and take steps to carry them out
  • A positive view of yourself and confidence in your strengths and abilities
  • Skills in communication and problem-solving
  • The capacity to manage strong feelings and impulses

With the increased pressures and stresses of life and work, resilience has become more and more important. An employee who is resilient will have improved well-being and less absence, will be able to adapt to change and difficulties more easily, learn from failure and welcome challenges. It is not difficult to see that all these characteristics or traits are important both to individual well-being and organisational performance.

Some individuals have certain personality traits that help them to be more resilient, but the good news is that we are all capable of improving our resilience. There are various approaches to enhancing resilience, with coaching or psychometric tools that can support this (we use the Mental Toughness Q48 tool). Some of the things that can help to learn from stressful events and improve resilience are:

  • Allow yourself to feel a wide range of emotions
  • Identify your support system and let them be there for you
  • Process your emotions with the help of a therapist or coach
  • Be mindful of your wellness and self-care
  • Get some rest or try to get an adequate amount of sleep
  • Try your best to maintain a routine
  • Write about your experience and share it with others

How does this link to conflict resolution?

The key skills to positively manage conflict include many factors that are common to high resilience.

  • Conflict resolution is an opportunity to learn from a difficult or challenging situation. Mediation and other similar approaches such as conflict coaching help individuals to better understand differences, how each person has contributed and how to better manage such situations in the future.
  • Managing expectations in resolution, understanding the reality of the situation and what is in your own control helps in having the confidence to take steps towards resolution.
  • Communication and the ability to really listen are key skills.
  • Acknowledging, understanding and managing emotions are extremely important. This links to the learning how to choose your response rather than get “hooked “emotionally.
  • Accepting the inevitability of conflict and welcoming the challenge to positively manage this is an important management and leadership skill leading to healthy relationships and cultures.
  • Those who are more resilient are likely to try to manage conflict in a positive way and learn from it rather than avoid it. Conversely the less resilient are more likely to avoid conflict rather than manage it; we all know that this is not a good strategy in the vast majority of cases.

So, improving resilience can improve conflict resolution skills as much as improving conflict resolution skills can be enhance resilience with both going hand in hand.

Conflict Dynamic Profile (CDP)

The Conflict Dynamic Profile (CDP) directly recognises the link between resilience and conflict resolution and is based on encouraging people to manage conflict rather than avoid it. The CDP puts a lot of emphasis on the emotional elements of conflict, measuring hot buttons – the behaviours in others that get us “hooked”. The CDP also looks at ways that people respond emotionally and measures the degree to which they hide, express, or act out emotions and helps people understand what triggers them in the first place, as well as how they can better manage their emotions.

Pierre Naquet, president of the Institute of Workplace Dynamics in Paris, notes, “People can increase their resilience and prepare themselves to bounce back from the stress of workplace conflict. This can play a very important part role in improving their quality of life.

We now have a number of conflict coaches who are accredited in using the CDP (alongside other models and approaches) to support individuals in conflict situations and develop both resilience and ability to better manage such situations. This is a great addition to our tool box.

For more information on how conflict coaching can be used to support those struggling with moving on from or managing conflict please see here. Alternatively please do not hesitate to contact us on [email protected] to discuss what support is available.

Alison Love

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