State & Local Programs

How to Deal with Conflict

Document Author:  Steve McCurley
Date Posted:  4/00

  1. Clarify what the problem is; clarify what the problem is not.
  1. Identify any commons goals, values, assumptions.
  1. Experiment until you find an approach that gets through effectively.
  1. Keep conversations focused on issues, not personalities.
  1. Use simple wording to explain your position.  Practice your position in advance until you know it well and can say it effectively.
  1. Rehearse positive interaction before the meeting.
  1. Keep your attitude positive.
  1. Clarify what you want/need from the other person.  Distinguish between the two.
  1. Watch out for old attitudes that are interfering with your current effort.
  1. Make sure your body and verbal language are in agreement.
  1. Don’t get sidetracked into irrelevant arguments.
  1. Speak in private if a difficult issue must be addressed. 
  1. Don’t take their dislike personally. 
  1. Don’t discuss them with other people.  The walls have both ears and mouths.
  1. Set a limit on what you will put up with and stick to it.
  1. Remember that you are not God.  ‘Winning’ may only mean arranging a tolerable working relationship, not solving all their personality defects.
  1. Treat them nice, anyway.  If may make them like you or it will, at worst, simply confuse them
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