Comfortable Amidst Conflict

Definition: Accept that some conflict is healthy and productive; consider different viewpoints, especially those that differ from your own; manage conflict effectively toward positive dialog and outcomes.

Relates to: Integrate and Co-Create


  1. Ask questions. Conflict can arise due to poor communication (e.g., someone didn't say what they meant to say or perhaps misstated what was intended). Before you allow an escalation, ask questions. It won't cause any loss of face, and may result in a quick resolution.
  2. Analyze expectations. Often, conflicts develop as a result of unmet expectations on one side. If the other party expected something they didn't get or something that didn't happen, the whole conversation can become negative and closed. If a conversation seems to be getting rocky, take a step back and review together with the other person to try to uncover what just occurred.
  3. Recognize differing perspectives. Keep in mind that conflict may arise due to people having different perceptions. You, or the other person, saw things differently. This happens most frequently when one is dealing with someone from another organization, background, or culture. It's easy to believe that we all see things the same way and then get derailed unexpectedly.
  4. Identify mistakes. Honest and unintended mistakes frequently result in conflict. Before you let temperatures rise, do a reality check of your understanding with the other person(s). Mistakes, even small ones, can erode one's credibility.
  5. Watch out for emotional triggers and beware of emotions. Fear of someone or somebody, loss of face (whether real or perceived), anger, and even excitement can all result in unintended conflict, which may cause your interaction to go downhill.
  6. Focus on preventing escalation. Conflict resolutions always start with one or both parties making an honest attempt at avoiding further escalation. This recognition, even if only by one of those involved, often causes a more objective review to occur.
  7. Take action to control the situation. Escalation-avoidance tactics may involve one of more key steps including separating the parties, changing the location of the discussion, signaling empathy to the other involved.
  8. Commit to working it out. Take charge of the process by committing to reach a resolution. A powerful impact occurs when one person makes this statement. It can turn down the temperature immediately.
  9. De-escalate the conflict. This can be accomplished with a joint statement of the facts at hand, always eliminating exaggerations, embellishments or personalities, which may inadvertently apply judgments and re-created the cycle of escalation.
  10. Stay calm. Cooler heads prevail in even the most difficult conflicts. Whether you're in a business or personal situation, you can take control of it by keeping cool. And when you're maintaining your calm, it will be easier for others involved to get back to the task at hand.


John McKee, “10 Tips and Tactics for Dealing With Conflict,” TechRepublic, last modified September 3, 2009.