As conflicts intensify, you face a choice. You can either spoil for a fight or detach yourself and stay levelheaded.
If you react with impulsiveness or impatience, you may dig a deeper hole for all involved. Your unbridled emotions can rile up others and raise the overall stress level.
A better approach is to exhibit unshakable civility as you hear all sides, ask clarifying questions and explore options with an open mind. Your calm, diligent response tamps down tempers and sets an example for all to emulate.
By focusing on facts and maintaining an even keel, you prevent a situation from boiling over. Just make sure to remain composed and eager to learn from others.
Before trying to impose a solution, summarize each person’s view of the conflict. Adding a dose of perspective “gets everyone on the same page as you turn your attention toward mutually acceptable outcomes,” says Craig Runde, co-author of Becoming a Conflict Competent Leader.
Another benefit of expressing how each individual sees the situation is that you avoid getting angry. You’re less apt to rush to judgment or vent your irritation at combatants if you’re busy empathizing with them.
If you’re tempted to criticize one of the parties for stubbornness or adopting a win-at-all-cost posture, convey your concern as a kind of general principle of behavior.
For example, say, “It helps all of us if we all agree to be open and flexible rather than get too wedded to our own positions.” This saves you from singling out anyone.
Finally, don’t get into a debate about who or what triggered the conflict. You’ll rarely identify a clear-cut culprit. Demand that everyone take responsibility for problem-solving and focus on moving ahead productively, not assigning blame.