“If you fail to confront, you will lose. But, if you confront poorly, you will also lose. So, you must confront, but confront well.” –Henry Cloud
A couple weeks ago, I had a series of tweets listing all the things I learned that day. It was a tough day and I learned many things. I really should do that everyday. One of my tweets said this: “Deal with conflict ASAP. It always turns out better then letting it fester.”
I’m a normal guy. What that means is I don’t like conflict anymore then you do. However, conflict is part of working and relating with people. Conflict happens. I’ve learned that since I know I’m going to need to deal with conflict, I should at least try to get better at it.
Someone taught me a very valuable truth when it comes to conflict:
- 50 percent of the time people don’t realize there is a problem.
- 30 percent of them realized there was a problem, but didn’t know how to solve it.
- 20 percent realized there was a problem, but didn’t want to solve it.
I immediately thought to myself, “If these statistics are true, then 80% of people want to solve problems constructively.” These are good odds for any of us that deal with conflict. Here are some steps I take to best deal with conflict:
1. Deal with conflict ASAP.
I have an uneasy feeling in my gut when a problem is just sitting there not being addressed. I try to deal with the situation right away and not let it become bigger then it really is.
2. “A soft answer turns away anger.” -Ancient sage
I know people that deal with conflict using aggressive means. That has never worked for me. I must approach conflict with an understanding heart. Often times, conflict stems from a simple misunderstanding. If I don’t take the time to listen first and understand their perspective, I could very well aggravate the situation.
3. The goal should be to make it a win for everyone involved.
As leaders, we should have the best interests in mind for everyone we work and minister with. I try to come into the conflict situation thinking about what might be the best solution for everyone involved. Conflict is not about telling people how wrong they are. Conflict should be about helping everyone grow and learn through the situation.
I would be lying if I said conflict was fun. It clearly is not. But it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Successful conflict can bring two people closer together, turn a good idea into a great idea, or empower a team to be even more successful. If we are to make that happen, then we need to learn to confront, and confront well.
What strategies do you use when you deal with conflict?