Navigating Conflicts Successfully
Bill Cottringer

Conflicts are an inevitable part of life and when they are not resolved, they often come back with increased velocity and vengeance to take a bigger bite from a part of the anatomy that really hurts. ~The author.

Conflicts usually involve Karma that you can’t outrun and sooner or later the above quote hits home. Most conflicts also involve opposing values and perspectives, or the vantage point from which we see what we are looking at. If conflicts have a purpose, it is probably to force us to learn, grow and improve in becoming our best selves. There seems to be one best way to successfully navigate through conflicts. This is to use mindfulness and assertiveness in applying these ten sensible suggestions:

1. The best perspective to navigate a conflict successfully has these two characteristics: (a) we should be embracing the situation, rather than trying to avoid or run away from it, and (b) the best solution comes from a cooperative win-win mentality rather than the traditional win-lose competitive stance.
2. A mindful state of thinking helps smooth the way for the resolution process to take hold. This is when you forget about past experiences or don’t drift off to future expectations and instead stay in the now moment to be aware of all that is or isn’t going on in the present so you can address the right issues of the conflict at the right time.
3. Good communication is the main tool for resolving conflicts. This involves: (a) Engaging in active listening with both ears and talking with one mouth, to hear what is or isn’t being said and what is being said apart from how it is being said, and (b) Avoiding defensiveness by replacing implications of superiority, control, certainty, judgement, and insensitivity by using words that convey equality, freedom, tentativeness, acceptance, and empathy.
4. Two helpful things to find out in the beginning are: (a) who already has the most invested in a certain outcome, and (b) who has the most to gain or lose with the optional outcomes. This may result in a rational decision for one party to either give in or accommodate the other.
5. Make an honest effort to collaborate, cooperate and compromise in finding resolutions that afford the most benefit to the parties with the most gain and do the least harm resulting in minimal loss. Nothing too important to each party should be sacrificed in the transaction.
6. Many conflicts go sideways because one side or both use the wrong passive-aggressive approach. The best approach—assertiveness—Involves thoughtfully standing up for your rights but not in a way that offends the other person. This middle road approach rarely fails in any interpersonal interaction.
7. Most conflicts have strong emotional components. Emotional intelligence is needed to unpack the feelings about the issues and expected outcomes to better understand and separate the valid considerations from the illegitimate ones. Unfortunately EI is not equally distributed anymore than IQ points, so the person with the most has to assume a leadership role.
8. Resist the temptation of keeping score. Each new situation is independent of past ones and all future outcomes are mere probabilities based on the relevant influences going on in the present. And besides this reality, once you find a good solution to one problem, you can rarely find the next new problem to bend with the old solution.
9. An important insight to consider is that each situation we enter into is already in motion before we get there. So, the ability to control the controllables in any conflict requires understanding all the moving parts of the situation that were already going on before you became involved. Underestimating the magnitude of such influences can often put the desired outcome out of reach.
10. There are some conflicts that appear to be unresolvable, at least in a way that doesn’t cause a serious loss for one or both parties of the conflict. These conflicts are ones in which both parties are caught between a rock and a hard place, or in effect, are in a double avoidance bind that causes paralysis. Fortunately, time alone can help untangle these messy situations.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is retired Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, but still teaches criminal justice classes and practices business success coaching and sport psychology. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Because Organization, an intervention program in human trafficking, the King County Sheriff’s Community Advisory Board, and involved with volunteer work in the veteran’s and horse therapy program at NWNHC Family Fund. Bill is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Critical Thinking (Authorsden); Thoughts on Happiness, Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale, and Christian Psychology (Covenant Books, Inc.). Coming soon: Reality Repair Rx + and Dog Logic. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (206)-914-1863 or