How to move a conflict situation along?
Some time ago I had a small disagreement with one of my clients. It was about the interpretation of a clause in the property management contract, a specific situation we both hadn’t foreseen.
So, I asked myself: ‘how can I handle this situation?’ It became clear that neither of us wanted to be fighting. We also didn’t want to damage the relationship. So, it was important to find a solution for this disagreement we had.
Why is it so important that you can deal effectively with a conflict? There are many reasons of course. One of the main reasons is of course that we would like to improve our relationships. We also spend a lot of time dealing with conflicts. Plus having a conflict is also uncomfortable and if you could find a more professional way to deal with this, this is always better.
This applies to all relationships, including the relationships between owner and tenant or the one between seller and buyer of properties.
In her Harvard Business Review book, Dealing with conflict, Amy Gallo provides a systematic and professional review of how to approach disagreements in a work situation. I think most of her concepts are universal and can be applied in every conflict situation.
In this article I would like to discuss some phrases how you productively move a conflict conversation along.
Sometimes a conversation can get heated and the other person can be quite upset. It is then important not to panic, take a deep breath and look objectively at what is happening. Then state what you are observing in a calm tone. For example: ‘it looks like that every time when I try to initiate this subject, you raise your voice’. Suggest a different approach: ‘if we put our heads together, we could probably come up with a way to move on. Do you have any ideas?’
So, below you will find some phrases that productively move a conflict conversation along:
- 'You may be right, but I’d like to understand more.'
- 'I have a completely different perspective, but clearly you think this is unfair, so how can we fix this?'
- 'Can you help me make the connection between this and the other issues we’re talking about?'
- 'Is there anything I can say or do that might convince you to consider other options here?'
- 'I’m sensing there are some intense emotions about this. When you said ‘X’, I had the impression you were feeling ‘Y’. If so, I’d like to understand what upset you. Is there something I’ve said or done?'
- 'I’d like to give my reaction to what you’ve said so far and see what you think’.
In this process, listening to the other’s person and expressing your point of view, a resolution may pop up naturally. Maybe there was only a misunderstanding and now it’s cleared up. Or after listening to the other person, you realise that you agree with his or her approach. Or you come across a solution that works well for both of you.
© Quilantro, Lilian Hermans