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Resolving Conflicts
2 min read

Resolving Conflicts

The key principle to remember during a conflict is that conflicts always happen in a shared context. Different people bring different perspectives and the conflict is related to those perspectives/opinions. This shared context could be looked as an opportunity for potential collaboration. So not opposing each other but putting two people together to solve a problem. The goal is for A and B to agree on the best way to do X.

Goals to achieve resolution

1. Listen and understand

The first goal is to understand how they think and feel about the issue.

  • Be quiet and pay attention
  • Offer encouragement, use gestures, smile depending on the context
  • Stay with them without interrupting
  • When they complete an idea, summarise what they said even if you got what they said. Ask “Did I get it right?” to show they have control
  • Validate their reasoning/feeling and thoughts
  • Simply acknowledge “that makes sense" Or “this is not what I was thinking but that makes sense".

2. Speak and explain

Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care. - Stephen Covey

The second goal is to explain how you think and why you feel the way you feel so they can understand where you are coming from.

  • Speak in a way you are understood
  • "This is my view. This is why. Here’s my proposal"

3. Negotiate

The third goal is to negotiate on the underlying concerns instead of negotiating on what people have said.

  • Attempt to find a win-win solution
  • Great negotiators find a way to give the other what they really want, not necessarily what they ask.
  • When someone is unreasonable, ask them why? “Do you disagree because it’s not a good idea or because you don’t want to do it even if it is a good idea" It’s hard to be unreasonable.
  • Instead of jumping to conclusion ask “why is that important to you?"
  • Discuss a way to come together. “Is there a way we can come together for mutual benefit. Can we find an integration of yours and my perspective that will lead us to a solution"

4. Commit

The fourth goal is to make a commitment together. Agreements are worthless without commitment. Move from agreement to commitment.

  • Make a request. “So we commit to doing X on Thursday afternoon. Are you ok with that”?
  • Make a commitment on who is going to do what and by when. “If we agree, let’s commit and get it done"
  • "I'll try" doesn’t work, commitment is specific.


When negotiation fails try to find the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA).

  1. What’s the best you can do without the cooperation of this person?
  2. What would you do if you can’t agree?


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