Conflict is a natural part of any relationship. At its best, it can promote healthy conversations, professional growth, and spur innovative ideas. But at its worst, conflict can lead to tension, frustration, lost productivity, and turnover. While miscommunications, differences in personalities, and stress can all lead to conflict; the best way to navigate through divisive situations is to listen and then do your best to lead the conversation to a positive resolution. We offer some strategies below that may help you defuse and move on from conflict when it occurs.
How To L.E.A.D. Through Conflict
The key to resolving a conflict is to acknowledge the situation and make plans to settle the current situation. While that can be easier said than done, the acronym L.E.A.D. can help you remember the four steps to moving past a difficult moment.
- Listen. While it sounds like simple advice, actively listening can be difficult when tensions are running high. Be mindful of what your body language is saying, even when you aren’t speaking. Keep an even tone and avoid raising your voice, even when the topic you’re debating is one you’re passionate about. Stay focused and engaged with what the other person is saying by listening without assumptions. When you’re open to listening to someone else’s side, you are not only showing respect, but taking the first step to de-escalating a stressful situation.
- Empathize. Having heard the other side, try to connect with how the person is feeling. Remember, at the end of the day you’re on same team, working toward the same goal. Creating this connection will give you common ground to build on.
- Acknowledge (and Apologize if necessary). Recognize the other person’s position and that you understand what they have shared with you. Try repeating what they said to ensure you have accurately captured the information shared with you. When appropriate, apologize if you had a role in escalating that situation.
- Do Something. Make a plan to avoid or lessen conflicts now and in the future. This is something you can work on together or individually. If you choose to develop the next steps on your own, make sure you share your plan with the other parties involved so they know what progress is being made.
Conflict is an unavoidable part of life—but it doesn’t always have to be negative. Conflict can lead to breakthroughs, growth, and even team bonding. By utilizing the acronym L.E.A.D., you can practice healthy, respectful communication while in conflict, and steer your team toward successful resolutions.