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How to Resolve Conflict with Open Communication

Conflict is an inevitable part of any relationship, whether it's personal or professional. However, that doesn't mean that we have to resort to conflict-avoidance strategies or let the drama take over.

two colleagues sitting at a table talking through some conflict

Instead, we can learn how to resolve conflict with open communication. By communicating openly and honestly, we can stay connected to each other while resolving whatever disagreement or issue has arisen. Conflict doesn't have to damage our relationships - it can actually be a tool for deepening them if we handle it in the right way.

What Is Open Communication?

Open communication is exactly what it sounds like: tackling an issue head on and openly discussing ways to resolve it. Nothing is accomplished by letting an issue fester because neither party wants to discuss it.

You’d be surprised how many conflicts can be resolved simply by sitting down with someone and engaging in some open and friendly communication. The discussion shouldn’t be accusatory, threatening, or argumentative, rather, it should be an opportunity for all people involved to calmly voice their opinions and be heard.

Tips For Resolving Conflicts

two people having a chat over coffee
  • A face-to-face confrontation may not always be best. For instance, some people are most comfortable talking on the phone or chatting online. Whichever method makes you feel most comfortable is how you should approach the conflict, so long as you are able to openly voice your concerns.

  • Do not make the person involved feel cornered or nervous. This is an extremely important thing to remember if you are in a position of authority over them. You want to make sure that you’re looking to fix the problem and not to attack them.

  • Remember to focus on the problem and not the person. Take a moment and really consider what you need to do to make sure that you’re not accusing the person or putting them down. That’ll only close them off to everything you’re saying, so make sure to focus on the behavior or the problem without raising your voice.

  • Consider adopting an open-door policy, both at home and at work. You’ll be able to effectively communicate with others if you show them that you’re willing to engage with them at any time. This is an important conflict resolution strategy because it will give you a lot more face-to-face time with them in general. The more you foster an open-door policy, the fewer conflicts you will have.

  • When mediating a conflict, remember that you need to be firm and fair. Listen to all sides and give each person a chance to speak uninterrupted.

Personal Relationships Can Benefit from Conflict Resolution Too!

two people holding hands on a walk by a lake

These tips can also help resolve family conflicts. No family member should be made to feel like his or her feelings don’t matter. You’ll have a much closer-knit relationship with your children and spouse if you have a mutual understanding that you can discuss any topic at any time, without having to wait for “the right time” or for a commercial break on television.

If you want your family to hear and respect your opinions, then treat them with the same level of respect. This is an important life lesson for people of all ages to learn.

Being Patient with Change

Change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s entirely possible that some people involved in the discussion will leave with hurt feelings. So long as everyone involved was treated respectfully and the issue is out in the open, you can now begin working toward a satisfactory resolution as a team.

We hope this article has helped you understand the importance of open communication and given you some tools to help resolve conflict. Conflict is inevitable, but it doesn’t have to be destructive. The more frequently you use these conflict resolution approaches, the easier it will become. Rather than stepping around a sore subject, it will become second nature to have an open discussion and find a resolution. It’s worth the effort to take some time and really consider what you can bring to the table when it comes to open communication and conflict resolution.

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