Strategies for Managing Conflict & Communication Tools

Tips for managing conflict:

  • Accept conflict
  • Be a calming agent
  • Listen actively, be attentive and ask questions
  • Analyze the conflict
  • Model neutral language
  • Separate the person from the problem
  • Work together
  • Agree to disagree
  • Focus on the future
  • Move past “positions”
  • Share your interests
  • Be creative
  • Be specific
  • Maintain confidentiality
  • Reach a solution together

Communication Tools

  • Always use “I” instead of “you” to express your feelings and avoid the other person/party feeling attacked and becoming defensive.
  • Use open body language
    • People often tend to mimic who they are around. Mimicking can be an effective tool because if someone is angry and seems closed off, conflict can be harder to resolve, while if people are open and keep calm everyone will be more open to resolving the problems.
  • Ask good questions trying to understand the other person/party, including feedback on how to improve the situation
  • Define the problem and the underlying need or conflict
  • Create a follow-up plan and check-in to make sure solution is being met
  • Always validate their feelings, including: "I’m sorry this hurt you"
  • A popular formula for assertive language includes the formula: "I understand…", "I feel…", "I want…"

Example of assertive language from Case Study #1:
"I understand that this is the first time the pantry has had a VISTA member so my role may still be unclear. However, I feel very undermined and undervalued when I am only considered a ‘volunteer.’ I really want to bring value to this pantry through my work this year, in ways a simple volunteer can’t. I also want to feel like I am part of this organization, since I am working here full-time for the next year."