Are you uncomfortable with and tend to avoid conflict, or can you spot potential conflicts, bring disagreements out in the open, and then deescalate them?


Hi, this is Grant Herbert, Emotional Intelligence Master Trainer and Sustainable Performance Coach, and today, I want to continue our conversation around Emotional Intelligence, around Effective Communication and Empathy by talking to you about what to do when it all goes wrong and we get into conflict.


Conflict is inevitable and Conflict Management is all about resolving disagreements. It's about identifying that we've had some miscommunication, that we've had a misunderstanding, and it's about using all the skills that we talked about in communicating and effectively, actively listening to go, "Hang on a sec, let's get back on track."


I know in my own life and in many of the people who I work with, in their lives, this is a skill that we haven't at all yet mastered. And when we're having difficulties in this area, we tend to fall into conflict all the time.


Now, to just step back a little bit, firstly, we've got to make sure, before we get into management of conflict, that we understand where it comes from. And a lot of times, conflict will come when we fail to suspend our judgment, when we fail to actively listen and therefore, we get misunderstandings.


When we tend to see the other person as our opponent, we fail to listen to their point of view and we're only interested in being right. I know this was a major challenge for me and it's something that I still have to work on every single day. We might lack consideration or tact and fail to see it from the other person's point of view.


And when we're only focusing on our point of view, it's really challenging to find common ground. When we encourage open debate and discussion and we draw out everyone's opinion in a logical way, as a fact-finding exercise, not looking for things to rebut against, then we're able to set up an environment of understanding where we can have those win-win solutions.


Effective Conflict Management is something that we will all get the benefit from at some point in our lives. There are totally different styles of Conflict Management. Some people are conflict avoiders at all costs. "Keep it away from me. I don't feel empowered, so I don't want to play."


Some people can be aggressive and they're really good at conflict, so they think, because they're practicing it all the time. Some people are compromises, where they just look for a win-win all the time. They give a little bit and they lose a little bit and they try and find the middle ground. This is not always a good thing because others might manipulate the situation.


So, whatever conflict style you are currently using, what I want to do is teach you some key tips, some steps that you can take in any conflict situation to deescalate and get back on an even ground where we can continue with positive communication.


Number one is to operate from your logical brain. As we've talked about, Emotional Intelligence is the ability to be aware of the emotion that you're going through in the moment, and then to use that information to manage your response.


So, when we operate from our logical brain, by asking "what" questions and "how" questions, rather than "why" questions, we're able to give ourselves a better opportunity to think, pause, and respond to what we're hearing, and to practice active listening, and to go through a logical process of gathering information without the need to give it a meaning or to judge it and therefore, be able to have healthy dialogue and manage and resolve the conflict.


Number two is to focus on the issue, not the person. Now, that's something that I was taught many, many years ago, and I never understood it until I understood the neuroscience behind Emotional Intelligence. Because when someone says, "Focus on the issue, don't focus on the person," I'm thinking, "It's the person that's creating the conflict. It's the person that's in front of me right now. It's the person that's on the other end of the keyboard in the social media conversation," or whatever it is.


So, by utilising tip one, which is staying in the logical brain, we're then able to focus on the outcome, focus on what it is that's being said, focus in a data-driven, logical information way that allows us to look at the issue and not make it personal between you and the other person or people.


And number three, and this is one that I have to use a lot, is to decide to be the most emotionally intelligent person in the interaction, to decide that no matter what, you're going to behave in a way that will give you the best opportunity to have a peaceful outcome.


Relationships are important and whether it's someone that you've just met on the keyboard, on social media, or someone that's close and near and dear to you, I think we can all benefit a lot more by having less conflict. So, if I make a decision that I'm going to be emotionally intelligent to the best of my ability and control only my behaviour, 'cause that's really all I can control, then the conflicts will deescalate quickly because you can only have conflict when two people want to play.


I remember a lot of times driving in traffic where someone might cut me off. And in the old days, before I knew how to do these things, I would give them the California salute, or shout something at them, or they would know by the expression on my face that I wasn't happy. And I was ready for a fight, but doing things differently, like when they cut me off going, "Sorry," even though it wasn't my fault, it tends to take the sting out of the conflict. There's no argument if you're not involved in it.


So, what I'm not saying here is not to let people walk all over you. What I'm saying is walk away when it's not your fight. What I'm saying is behave in a way that you would like others to behave to you. And what I've found is that communication gets the response from the way it's been given.


So, the best thing that you and I can do to deescalate a conflict and get to a position where we can get back on track with our communication. And Effective Communication is to decide to be in control of our emotions, of our self-talk, of what actually comes out of our mouth, whatever we type on the keyboard, and all these skills are a part of Emotional Intelligence.


Conflict happens when there is poor communication, when there's a lack of mutual understanding, where there's no give and take, where there's a failure to suspend judgment, where there's a need to be right.


And Conflict Management is a culmination of those skills in Emotional Intelligence that we've talked about: Personal Power, being okay in your own skin, and being okay with being who you are, Emotional Self-Control, being able to understand the emotions and the meanings that you're putting on things, and being able to take your response down a different direction, rather than a reaction.


It's about having that Effective Communication, things like active listening, listening for what's not being said, and all the things we've talked about over this last six weeks or so. When I work with people in developing Conflict Management skills, I teach a five-step process for effectively negotiating and resolving any conflict. If you're interested in knowing more about that, then drop me a line, put in a comment, and I'd love to help you out with that.


Well, that's it for me for another week. Make sure you hit the subscribe button and join me again next week, when we continue our conversation around the competencies of Social and Emotional Intelligence that are going to help us to navigate beyond COVID-19 and just enjoy whoever we need to be in every area of our life. I'll see you then.

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