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Conflict management

Updated: Oct 19, 2023

Have you ever felt at an impasse following a conflict? Have you ever told yourself that the situation was doomed and that it was not worth trying to resolve the conflict with the other person?

We have all experienced conflict in our lives, whether at home, at school, or at work. In reality, all of our interpersonal relationships can give rise to conflict.

"Why is it sometimes so complicated to live harmoniously without discord?"

Each individual is unique because of his values, his education and his personality traits, this brings divergent visions, so it is normal to encounter differences of opinion.

Know that conflicts are not just negative events and that if handled properly, they can serve as a stepping stone to moving a relationship to a higher level, deeper, sincere, more balanced and with a better understanding of respective points of view.

According to Amy Gallo, author of the book “Getting along”, there are 4 causes of conflict at work:

  1. Task conflict: due to the difference of perspective of what needs to be done. Cowerkers "are disagreeing about what needs to be done, or don’t agree on the project’s goal".

  2. Process conflict: due to the difference in the perception of each in the “way to arrive at the resolution of the conflict”. It "can be seen as similar to a task conflict, but process is disagreeing about how the project or task is done."

  3. Status conflict (or role conflict): due to the difference of opinion of “who is in charge”. "This can happen because it’s unclear who is actually allowed to make the call based on organizational hierarchy, or it’s more of a turf war in which one person feels they should be in charge instead of another"

  4. Relationship conflict: due to “lack of respect”. "When personal feelings get involved".

These types of conflict can give rise to 4 different types of reaction, namely:

  1. Fight: Aggressively confront any perceived threat.

  2. Flight: escape from danger.

  3. Freeze: unable to move or act against a threat.

  4. Fawn: act immediately to try to please in order to avoid conflict.

In your opinion, which of these 4 types of reactions do you use most frequently in your conflict resolutions? Do you find that your strategy gives the expected results in resolving your conflicts?

The first question to ask yourself before trying to resolve a conflict is to target what we are trying to put forward. What are we looking for?

  1. Solving the problem.

  2. Making the other person look bad.

  3. To be right.

The intentions of the departure are decisive in the eventual success of the management of the conflict. Too often people who are not aware that they actually want to start a discussion for the sole purpose of “making the other person look bad” or “being right” are disappointed with the result of their discussions. Awareness before starting any conflict resolution will allow you to readjust and align your initial intention with the final result. Ask yourself "what message would I like to convey in my exchange and what is my real intention"?

Here are, according to psychologist Nadia Gagnier, the 6 stages of conflict resolution:

  1. Prepare for the discussion, calm down first when we are too angry.

  2. State the problem and determine the cause.

  3. Listen to the other attentively without interrupting.

  4. Find points of agreement and points of disagreement.

  5. Propose solutions.

  6. Choose a solution and establish a plan.

Finally, I hope that the various suggestions in this article will help you approach each situation by being aware of the actions that will allow you to reach the best possible solution in your conflicts. Don't forget, it's with practice that you become better, so don't be discouraged if the first time is not perfect. There is always room for improvement.

For further information, do not hesitate to contact me.

Sylvie Taillefer, Guidance Counsellor at Coaching Carrière

Sources :

Getting Along: How to Work with Anyone (Even Difficult People), Amy Gallo

Les confits, ça fait partie de la vie !, Nadia Gagnier, psychologue, Enfants Québec, Juillet-Août 2016.

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