THE ART OF CONFLICT MANAGEMENT – Blessing Posu | @BlessingPosu
Have you ever wondered why you find it extremely difficult to get along, or manage your disagreements with people? Or has it been a bother to you why you’re unable to smoothly settle your differences with people, whether your spouse, colleagues at work, church folks, neighbours, customers/clients, superiors, relatives, etc.? If conflict management has ever been a concern to you, I advise you to read on.
Conflict is not a bad thing! It is not the worst thing that can happen to your relationship, and it is not the most frustrating thing that can sap the energy from you. The satisfaction or frustration that you derive from your conflicts with people are all directly proportional to your conflict management skills. Many people believe that if they can just try to do things right, or be nice on the whole, or be generally pleasing, or be so kind and neighbourly, they’d avoid having conflicts with people.
Some ladies think if they can just learn to be so submissive and undemanding, and their men so loving and honest, then what the heck! Everything will just be so nice. Well, this is not so in the real world. Conflict happens not always because some people are bad while others are not, but because we all are different persons, with different personalities and needs, yet needing to relate and co-exist. And so, as long as we all remain different and still try to live and relate together, there must be conflict. This is unavoidable!
So, what do you need to do? How can you disagree with people and at the end of the day retain your relationship with them? How can you become a better conflict manager? How can you avoid making so much enemies and at the same time conveniently get your views across?
*** GET KNOWLEDGE! I know of a senior lawyer who was always having issues with his clients. Everytime, he haggled and harassed his clients for his professional fees despite his senior position in the profession. He was always losing clients and painting himself in a bad light. And then, fortunately for him, he attended one of the conferences organised by the NBA where one of the featured seminars was: ‘Recovering your professional fees with ease’. He realized from the seminar that he had two major problems; one, refusing to disclose to clients from the beginning what financial commitment they would incur for his professional fees, and two, charging clients in piecemeal for logistics, while unknown to the clients, a more exorbitant fee would be charged for professional services when the clients had thought they were enjoying cheap service. He saw from the seminar that he needed to operate a standard practice where his clients would be fully aware from the onset what they were to be charged, and also distinguish his professional fees from the cost of logistics payable by each client for his case. In no time, his practice received a boost. His clients developed more confidence in him, and his relationship with them became more tidy and smooth.
*** BE PATIENT! This has a general application but is especially useful in romantic or family relationships and that is because this sort of relationships are more emotional in nature. Sometimes, when we have disagreements with our loved ones, we ‘just’ ask for forgiveness ‘just’ to keep the peace, and ‘just’ expect them to forgive and forget, and ‘just’ will things to go back to the way they were. If this does not happen, we begin to feel that the other person has issues. Well this may not be so. Are you always patient enough to fully understand the grouse of your partner? What exactly is the cause of the disagreement? Is your partner satisfied with a simple ‘sorry’, or does he/she need an explanation? I’ve seen people get mad because their partners asked for some form of explanation for their misdeed believing that since they had apologized, that should be all. No! That can’t be all if your partner needs more. Be patient. Don’t gloss over issues if your partner needs details. Don’t rush him/her. Sometimes they just need time to fully digest some information, your remorse, or their decision.
*** LISTEN! Listen to the other party. You’re not always right and you can’t always be right. Hear them out, even if they are not making sense to you. Give them opportunities to air their views and, respect what they say even if not pleasant to you.
*** BE CALM! Don’t shout on the other party, it doesn’t help in crisis management. The highest “benefits” shouting can get you is to cause intimidation, or make the other party close up, or portray you in bad light. It just doesn’t help. Be calm… you can be angry, but don’t lose your mind. This is not easy, it requires conscious effort and discipline, but, you can do it.
Finally but not exhaustively, BE READY TO LET GO! Yes! Be ready to compromise in some situations. Be ready to let go of some of your pride, ego, or personal interest. Be ready to reason with the other person as much as you can. Learn that you can’t always have your way, you can’t always have it all. Don’t be selfish. Be ready to apologize where it is apparent that you need to. Learn to be better, wiser, and keener in preserving your relationship.
On the whole, conflict management is not easy, it is an art. You don’t just stumble on it, you take time to develop it. Some people have become happier and discovered gold mines, just because they took time to learn the art and apply it to their daily living and profession, while some others continuously go from one job, relationship, apartment, neighbourhood, even public buses to the other just because they can’t manage their conflicts effectively. Be wise! Be better! Be smart! You can be…
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