When do you avoid confrontations?

Solve conflicts instead of avoiding them

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When people work together who are more or less dependent on each other and have to coordinate their actions, conflicts can arise. It is therefore not crucial to avoid conflicts, but to avoid them as much as possible constructive to deal with.

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But in many cooperations, it is preferred to pursue a bird and ostrich policy and bury the head in the sand instead of tackling problems together and then resolving conflicts that arise when they are still small and manageable. On the other hand, if they are pushed aside, the energy builds up until the boiling point is reached at some point and the accumulated energy is discharged - usually at a completely inappropriate time. Then conflicts no longer run constructively, but rather according to their own, mostly destructive Laws.

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Conflict handling can be done using the Avalanches to compare. In many winter sports resorts, the slabs of snow that are forming are constantly observed and then triggered regularly in a controlled manner so that they go off in a controlled manner and with little impact. But it happens again and again that an avalanche is released in an uncontrolled manner due to some cause, pulling everything with it and causing serious damage that can only be repaired with great effort.

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Recognize situations of tension and causes of conflict

Every collaboration creates tension. These can consist of internal or external Role conflicts result, for example, from a conflict between your role as a sole proprietor and your parallel role as a cooperation partner. They can arise from different personality structures and behavior and communication styles of the partners. The potential for conflict can lie in the fact that the partners are not aware of existing competition or even opposition or that they represent incompatible positions.

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If situations of tension are not considered or ignored during negotiations, conflicts can arise in the cooperation about the fact that the partners try with all their might, apparently or actually incompatible plans of action to realize.

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Conflicts in cooperation can have the following causes:

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  • Different assessments: If the partners' opinions differ on how certain results are to be assessed, they will not be able to agree on a uniform approach. A different assessment can mainly arise from the fact that the previous experiences of the partners differ significantly from one another; that they process and evaluate information differently due to their personality structure; or that they base their assessment on different sources of information. If then everyone insists on his point of view and are unwilling to deviate from it Conflicts inevitable.

  • Different values ​​and goals: If these do not really match between the partners, there is a lot of potential for conflict. Above all, the partners will keep arguing about whose values ​​have priority. These conflicts then ignite Little thingswhich usually have little to do with the underlying topic - the conflict of values ​​or goals. Then the agreement on a common approach can turn into such a feat of strength that the result achieved is no longer in proportion to the effort. For long-term, fruitful cooperation, it is therefore of great importance that the personal goals and values ​​match.

  • Use of funds: Conflicts arise here when the partners cannot agree on how many resources (both financial and temporal) are actually required for the cooperation; or how these funds will be raised and what they will ultimately be used for. Here you have to be aware that in the event of a dispute it is usually only superficially about the resources, and behind them Conflict of goals and values or a dispute about who in the cooperation is the Makes Has.

Conflicts never leave us indifferent, they affect our emotional balance and our decision-making ability to a considerable extent. They have the following effects:

  • They change our will.In the event of a conflict, our focus is only on how and that we assert our interests. In this way, pages in us can be addressed (and subsequently also come to light) that we do not know about ourselves or that we prefer not to deal with.

  • They affect our emotional life. Anyone who has ever had a violent argument probably remembers the roller coaster of emotions that can come to light. In the event of a conflict, you constantly oscillate between understanding and rejection, between sympathy and antipathy, until a feeling has finally settled, from which it is difficult to get rid of.

  • They affect our ability to perceive. In the event of a conflict, our view of things becomes increasingly narrow and one-sided; our thinking and thus also our decision-making options are distorted and our imagination is more and more clouded by an almost compulsive behavior of which we are not at all aware.

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All of these factors interlock and not only mean that we prefer to avoid conflicts, but they are also a reason why they can easily escalate and thus assume a dimension that we are no longer able to cope with.

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Address problems in good time and come to a solution

With this background it becomes understandable why it is not only important and useful to have a trustworthy one Feedback culture to have within the cooperation. Because you also need rules of the game that make it easier for you to address problems in good time - namely before they have taken on a dimension that makes it difficult to deal with them.

Below you will get two suggestionswith which you can come to a solution in the event of a conflict and also make sure that nobody leaves the field as a loser, but that both can shake hands as winners in the end. The first method comes from Thomas Gordon and has as Manager conference meanwhile found widespread use (Gordon, Thomas: Managers Conference. Effective leadership training. Updated new edition. Heyne, Munich, 2005); I got to know the other method at a training course in the USA and have been using it with success ever since when it comes to resolving relationship conflicts.

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1. Open conflict resolution (according to Gordon)

It is widespread in many variants and is based on analyzing the situation in individual steps and thus finding a solution. The following sequence divides the procedure into four sections, each with two steps. Stick to the order presented so that you achieve a result that is satisfactory for everyone involved.

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1st step: Clarify the facts: What is it about?

Step 2: Analyze the causes: why is that so?

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3rd step: Define and weight goals: What should be achieved?

4th step: Find alternative solutions: What could the solution be?


Step 5: Evaluate alternative solutions: What is the best?

Step 6: Decide and justify: Why this suggestion?


Step 7: Consider the impact: what shouldn't happen?

Step 8: Implement and assess the solution: How is the problem solved?

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Sometimes the conflicting parties are not in a position to go through the individual steps on their own because what Albert Einstein once said occurs: A problem cannot be solved at the level at which it arose. This is mostly the case when the partners are unable to rely on a parent or Meta level and look at the problem from this perspective. They are then limited in their possible solutions and therefore cannot find a solution.

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In these cases, it makes sense to ask a companion or moderator to ensure that the sequence is strictly adhered to and to propose solutions.

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2. The 7-step relationship clarification model

This model differs from the open conflict resolution according to Gordon in that the relationship with the partner is in the foreground. If you work with this model, you have to think carefully beforehand what you want to achieve, because at the end you should make a proposal.

At the same time, you have the opportunity to check your own perception over and over again during the course of the conversation; this can lead to the fact that you realize to what extent you have filtered things or projected your own topics onto your partner.

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Step 1: Get permission

I would like to clarify something with you. When is a good time to do this?

Step 2: Communicate perception

I see / hear ... (precise description of the situation to be clarified). Is my perception correct?

3rd step: Communicate the interpretation

I think / interpret / judge ... (the situation as follows ...)

4th step: carry out a check

Is my interpretation correct?

Step 5: Express your feelings

It makes me feel ... (e.g. closer / more distant / inferior / superior)

Step 6: Let Intention Know

My intention is ... (e.g. to clarify the situation, achieve better cooperation, etc.)

Step 7: Propose an action

I propose ... (What would you like to change by clarifying? Here are specific suggestions.)

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Observe the principles of conflict resolution

Whichever approach you choose, it is important that you make sure that you adhere to the four steps of conflict resolution. These are:

  • Respect each other. Appropriately express your own thoughts and refrain from demonstrating power and superiority. Be ready to really listen to the other person without already focusing on what you are saying.

  • Resolve any disputed points. In doing so, check your own intentions and question your attitude towards the matter in dispute. Refrain from applying pressure and thereby manipulating the other.

  • Achieve consistency. Stay tuned until you both come to a conclusion. Avoid pointing the finger, because everyone contributes to a conflict. Trust your abilities to find a solution and think about what you can and want to do yourself.

  • Share the responsibility. See the conflict as your common problem that you want to solve together. Formulate a common goal for this. Accept your partner's goodwill and speak openly about your differences. Only what is said can be clarified.

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The model of nonviolent communication that the American Marshall B. Rosenberg developed (Marshall B. Rosenberg: Nonviolent Communication - Speaking honestly and empathetically to one another. Updated edition. Junfermann Verlag, Paderborn, 2007). It is based on mutual appreciation, which helps people meet and talk to each other differently. An essential element of this form of communication is the willingness to really get to know the other person and to explore what the trigger for a conflict (or a need) is. It is also about moving a bit away from yourself and not referring everything to yourself and realizing that, for example, feelings such as anger do not come from our thoughts, but arise through our evaluation.