It seems that Tammy Lenski and I frequently get the same question: “How do you resolve a conflict quickly?”
It also seems that we have similar answers: “Slow down.”
Virtually everything I do professionally centers around resolving conflict, improving communication, enhancing leadership, and inspiring teamwork. I work with teams of all kinds: work teams, non-profit teams, and family teams. While the specifics of the environment might change, one thing remains the same in every situation: all of the involved parties are in interdependent relationships.
Understanding the interdependent nature of the relationships, I operate under the starting assumption that the involved parties want to preserve their relationships in the process of resolving the conflict. I assume that the preferred solution involves crafting a plan that enables everyone involved to continue working together.
With that starting assumption in place, I would like to add my voice to Tammy's call for a slow conflict movement.
- miss important information in the other person's perspective
- push for my perspective rather than listen to the other person
- focus my thinking on a single solution rather than consider alternative solutions
- ignore the other person's thoughts and feelings
In short, when I rush, I get selfish.
When I slow down, I:
- learn from the other person
- listen better
- open my mind to multiple solution paths
- remain sensitive to the other person
Even though the first approach tends to have a faster conversational pace and often feels faster in the moment, it actually slows us down because it creates new conflicts and side issues that drag out the conversation or hurt our future interactions. Going fast in conflict resolution is actually slow.
The second approach feels slow because it involves periods of silence, reflection, and carefully crafted conversation. However, it creates an environment where both parties really understand each other. Slowing down heads off future misunderstandings and conflicts. Going slow in the moment is fast in the long run.
To remember how to slow down in the moment, I focus on giving a SOLID response:
I wish that I could say I am perfect at applying this concept. Sadly, I am not. I have noticed that when I slow down in conflict, my relationships, both professional and personal, are free to speed up.