Conflict skills: 6 tips for dealing with conflict constructively

Only a few can deal with conflicts and disputes, the rest try everything to avoid every spat and quarrel. This has very little to do with the ability to deal with conflict. Thereby it is so important to react correctly to threatening and acute quarrels. If only because it regularly leads to conflicts – both in the private sphere, but especially also in professional life. A pure avoidance strategy is of little use, but fortunately, the ability to deal with conflict can be learned and improved..

Conflict management skills: 6 tips for dealing with conflicts constructively

➠ Content: What you can expect

Definition: What does conflict ability mean??

The ability to deal with conflict means two things: being able to deal constructively with an argument in the situation itself and not becoming personal in the process. Those who are able to deal with conflict really manage to resolve the conflict in the end, without holding grudges. Or only seem to have come to an agreement because the argument was getting on your nerves and you wanted to have your peace and quiet. In this sense, the ability to deal with conflict is at the same time conflict management.

In the best case, however, the ability to deal with conflict begins before conflict resolution might even become necessary. In other words, it’s about having a good sense for emerging conflicts and being able to nip them in the bud and defuse them before the big bang can come in the form of a loud, emotional or simply very unpleasant argument.

This important core competence Should not be confused or equated with running away from conflict as described above. Such behavior is more in line with conflict aversion, so as not to come into contact with the situation and atmosphere of an argument. The ability to deal with conflict, on the other hand, is demonstrated by consciously and purposefully recognizing that a conflict could be imminent – and acting proactively accordingly.

When conflict skills are needed?

Conflicts can arise anytime and anywhere. Sometimes it looms over a long period of time, in other cases a dispute arises (seemingly) all of a sudden. Before displeasure are different views and opinions, conflicting priorities, desires and goals, or misunderstandings that can arise from faulty communication. Therefore, the more different people are, the easier it is for conflicts to occur. And that makes good conflict skills all the more important for reducing the potential for arguments and resolving existing disputes in the best possible way.

That’s why the ability to deal with conflict is important at work A sought-after social competence. Of course, there are arguments and annoyances in your private life as well, but here you can have more influence on who you surround yourself with. Friends and family tend to tick like you, making opposing opinions less common. On the other hand, at work you are thrown together with a large number of colleagues, where the most diverse personalities have to work together in a small space and for a long time. Among them are good colleagues with whom you get along and with whom work is fun. But in all likelihood, so does at least one other employee who doesn’t share your views and whose way of working you don’t get along with well.

Demonstrate the ability to deal with conflict in an interview

Since the ability to deal with conflict is one of the important soft skills in working life, personnel managers have a heightened interest in testing applicants on their behavior. How can you demonstrate your ability to deal with conflict in your application or in the job interview??

Conflict skills in the cover letter

Paper is patient. Means: You can claim a lot, but you should be able to prove your ability to deal with conflict using examples. Situations in which you frequently have to deal with other people are suitable for this purpose. These can be examples from previous jobs as well as from hobbies: For example, if you were the team captain of a soccer team and frequently settled team conflicts.

You can just as easily highlight situations in general in your cover letter, like this: "I find different opinions in teams enriching. For me, this is not at odds with successful project completion, it just requires communication skills and the will to change perspectives – both of which I bring to the table."

Conflict skills in the interview

Possible questions in the job interview, but possibly also role plays or group discussions in the assessment center, with which personnel managers test your ability to deal with conflict.

For example, an employee or a competitor may be miming an angry customer and you need to resolve the conflict with your counterpart (PDF). To do this, you can use the LEAF method, for example. This basically says that you listen, put yourself in your counterpart’s shoes, apologize and solve the problem.

Good reasons to improve your conflict management skills

Conflict is part of interpersonal relationships. No matter how hard you try to achieve harmony, you will not succeed in running away from every dispute. This applies to disputes in which you are directly involved as well as those that take place in your environment. For this reason alone, the ability to deal with conflict is an almost indispensable key competence for dealing with the challenges of everyday life. There are also other good reasons to work on your own conflict management skills:

  • You stand up for your opinion
    If you are not capable of conflict and instead withdraw, you also have no influence on how a discussion ends. So you have to put up with what others decide – whether you agree with it or not. Through better conflict skills, you can learn to constructively stand up for your opinion and also defend and enforce it.
  • You improve the atmosphere
    Without the necessary conflict skills, disputes can have a lasting negative impact on living or working together. People may not argue openly every day, but their mood still suffers and the conflict can smolder for weeks and months and break out again at any time.
  • Set boundaries
    Conflict skills are important for setting boundaries and making sure others respect and adhere to them. It may sound easy, but it already requires conflict skills to say no with determination and stand by that statement.

Learn conflict skills: With these 6 tips it works

Those who deal with conflict constructively distinguish between the emotional level (relationship level) and the substantive level (issue level). Educators assume that conflict skills can be learned and improved. We have some tips and suggestions to help you do the right thing in the next conflict:

1. Accept conflict

Conflicts happen and should be solved. Looking the other way, ignoring it, and hoping it will pass won’t do you much good. If you recognize that you can’t do without conflict, the next step is to focus on the right reactions instead of avoiding them. It is important to realize that a conflict does not have to be a lasting problem. Conflict-shy people are often afraid of ruining relationships for good when it comes to arguing. However, managing a conflict constructively aims to do the exact opposite.

2. Question the situation

For better conflict skills, you should reflect on the current situation and question the most important points. What exactly is the conflict about? Is there perhaps something else behind it? Why are you arguing and how did this disagreement come about? This will enable you to better assess the situation and react to it in a more targeted manner. For example, if you understand what is behind the current conflict, you can address it and get to the root of the problem.

3. Recognize the benefits of conflict

Arguing is no fun – at least not for most people. We strive for a harmonious cooperation and want the dispute to be over as soon as possible. But to learn conflict skills, focus on the benefits and advantages of conflict. Misunderstandings can be resolved, necessary changes can be initiated, and only when different opinions meet can the best option be found and selected. Ultimately, the idea of diversity in teams is also based on this insight. Considered this way, conflicts are very often worthwhile.

4. Stay friendly

A seemingly trivial tip, but in practice for many is very difficult to implement. Conflict skills means the constructive handling of disputes. If you get upset or maybe even insult your counterpart, you can be sure that this will not solve the situation but aggravate it. Friendly behavior and objectivity in a conflict require self-control. If you succeed in this, your conflicts will be completely different than before.

5. Put yourself in the position of your counterpart

In arguments, everyone is convinced that their opinion is the only true one and the other person is completely off base. Such an attitude does not contribute to the ability to deal with conflict. Try to understand the point of view of your counterpart and understand his view of things. This often already helps to mitigate a conflict and maybe even end it completely.

6. Work on your self-confidence

Self-confidence is an important prerequisite for the ability to deal with conflict. You need to be ready to stand up for yourself and deal with the tense atmosphere without caving in or falling into self-doubt. If you lack self-confidence, you depend too much on the approval of others and don’t dare to lead a conflict. Fear of rejection makes you hold back and agree with everyone.

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