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Conflict Resolution: Stop, Drop & Roll

Conflict Resolution: Stop, Drop & Roll

Conflicts come in all shapes and sizes. No matter the size, one thing conflicts have in common is that they are…well, common. No one can avoid conflict forever. Even the most accommodating, conflict-avoiding person will find him or herself face-to-face with conflict eventually. 

When this happens, how you respond makes all the difference.

Many people react to conflict. Reacting indicates an emotionally-charged, impulsive behavior. When you react to conflict, you’re more likely to say something you’ll later regret or let your emotions get the best of you.

Responding to conflict, on the other hand, requires careful, conscious decision-making before speaking or acting. Responding to conflict helps you maintain control of the situation and keep your professional reputation in tact.

The trickiest part about responding to conflict is keeping your emotions in check. Anger, annoyance, or frustration can overcome good judgment in an instant.

Self-awareness and a healthy dose of humility are essential to avoiding the temptation to let an emotional reaction fan the flames of discord. When faced with an angry customer, a disagreement with a colleague, or any other uncomfortable confrontation, remember to stop, drop, and roll.

Stop and think.

What am I about to say? Is it on topic or a personal attack? How about my tone? Am I letting my frustration show? Have I raised my voice? What about body language? Are my arms crossed or my hands on my hips? Am I frowning?   

Drop the unproductive behavior.

Strong emotions may be present in a conflict. That’s natural. However, you can choose to focus on the problem at the root of the conflict. If you catch yourself making things personal or contemplating passive-aggressive retaliation, drop it. It’s not worth it and it’s never too late to change course.

Roll with an apology.

A sincere apology goes a long way. Maybe a resident needs to hear some sympathy for what they’re going through. Maybe you’ve realized you’re actually in the wrong. Or maybe you just need to apologize for a few harsh words that slipped through your filter. Whatever the case, don’t be afraid to swallow your pride and utter the words, “I’m sorry.”

Using these three strategies can help you avoid an unprofessional—and unwarranted—reaction in the workplace. Practice these when conflict arise, and you'll be much less likely to lose your cool.

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