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Resolving a dispute: 11 tips to end a dispute

Wherever people meet, there can be points of friction that can escalate quickly. Such a thunderstorm can have a cleansing effect and make it easier. However, it is important to be able to settle a dispute before it gets completely out of hand. Easier said than done, because once spoken into a rage and upset, it is challenging. In the end, open communication and the will to try to settle the dispute help above all else. 11 tips on how to do this ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Settling disputes: There can be disagreements

An argument rarely feels good. It's not always fair, sometimes it's just about wiping out the opponent. On the other hand, you shouldn't demonize disputes and arguments - neither in your relationship nor in your job. In fact, an argument can be very good and meaningful. As long as they stay within bounds, disagreements are even necessary in order to come to a common denominator. Those who just keep saying yes and amen are avoiding the discussion. In the end, however, he is also regularly ignored and is dissatisfied with the results, as they do not take his views into account.

The dispute also fulfills an important function between people. He ensures that conflicts do not smolder forever and become more and more dangerous in the process. A short, even violent argument is better than a problem that remains unsaid for weeks and explodes at some point. It is important to note that starting disputes and fighting them is not an art. It is crucial to be able to settle a dispute before it goes completely out of joint. At this point, however, many arguers find it difficult.

Why dispute is difficult to settle

Settling disputes sounds simple in theory: Both parties calm down and apologize, shake hands and there is peace, joy, pancakes again. What is still easy for children to do looks a little different in adult life. Instead of dealing with a conflict, the adversaries eventually split up in annoyance, try to ignore the other as much as possible, feel misunderstood or wrongly attacked. But why is it so difficult to settle an argument? There are two reasons for this:

  • The emotions are boiling
    From a rational point of view, of course, it makes sense to try to resolve the dispute. However, at this moment, arguers do not think rationally, but are largely controlled by their emotions. The parties to the dispute concentrate fully on the anger, frustration and perceived anger. This leaves no room to worry about settling the dispute.
  • The first step is the hardest
    In many situations everyone involved is happy when the dispute is settled - but it always fails because nobody takes the first step towards the other. Either you don't know what to say or you are too proud and don't want to give the impression that you are going to give in and give in to an argument.

Tips on how to settle a dispute

An argument that goes on forever and destroys relationships in the long term is not only exhausting, but also has a negative effect on happiness and satisfaction. For example, if you go to work every morning with the uneasy feeling that a colleague is waiting in the office with whom you have had a serious fight without ever settling the argument, the mood is correspondingly lousy. It doesn't have to get that far, because settling a dispute is not always easy, but it is also not impossible. The following tips will help you calm things down:

1. Develop the right mindset

You really have to want to resolve the dispute and not just be annoyed by the situation. Remind yourself how much energy and good humor is lost through the argument and that you actually appreciate the harmony around you. You will no longer just concentrate on the dispute, but instead focus your thoughts on a solution in order to settle the dispute.

2. First come to rest

As long as the mood is still heated, it is difficult to try to settle an argument. The anger is still too fresh and the adrenaline from the argument is still in the body. It is therefore better if you give yourself and the other person a little time to calm down. It is completely okay if everyone stays for themselves and retires to their own office. Once the first smoke has dissipated, the dispute can be settled more easily.

3. Don't wait for the other

As mentioned earlier, the first step is especially difficult if you want to settle a dispute. This is why you should take this important step as your counterparty may not make it. Otherwise, the argument may go on forever.

4. Apologize

After an argument, you should apologize - even if you feel like the other person owes you a sorry. On the one hand, you are showing greatness because you are ready to stand up for your behavior and see that you may not have been entirely fair in an argument. On the other hand, an apology on your part opens a door for the other person and makes it easier for them to step up to you as well.

5. Keep listening to the other person

Resolving a dispute does not mean that communication and exchange end there. In order to really solve the problem and not come across similar points again, it is important to continue listening and responding to the person you are speaking to. What made him so angry? What is particularly important to him? Where is he willing to compromise? Once the dispute is resolved and you start talking again, you can get important information.

6. Use I-phrases

In conflict, some weigh every word on the gold scales and hear reproaches or accusations. Even if you don't mean it, you may be picking the wrong tone. The problem: Many phrases automatically sound like an accusation as soon as you start the sentence with "You". The person addressed immediately feels attacked: You have ... you want ... you think ... are always implicit allegations. You better settle a dispute with I-messages, with which you describe the situation and reflect your view of things without attacking the person you are talking to. I think…, I see it this way ..., I am of the opinion… This will take away a lot of potential for conflict from the situation.

7. Look for similarities

Even with opposing feelings and opinions, there are almost always points in the dispute that both sides can agree on. These similarities are important in order to be able to settle a dispute. Put the focus on the things that you have in common and at this point start looking for a solution that both sides can live with.

Resolve disputes through non-violent communication

The communication trainer and expert in non-violent communication, Susanne Lorenz, sees the key to settling disputes in understanding one another. Incorrect communication quickly leads to conflict escalation; instead of settling a dispute, it only gets worse. Lorenz has derived four steps from non-violent communication that help to settle a dispute:

1. Observe the trigger

In this step you seek distance from the triggering situation and look at it from a neutral perspective. It is useful to imagine seeing the situation as if through a camera: what actually happened or did not happen? (“Earlier, I passed you in the hallway and said hello, no hello came back from you.”) This makes it possible to separate evaluative interpretations that lead to negative feelings from non-judgmental consideration. With regular use, the judgmental thoughts are noticed more quickly and there is an awareness of the connection between these thoughts and the negative feelings that result from them.

2. Analyze feelings

In the second step you analyze your feelings in the corresponding situation. It is important to understand that this feeling was only triggered by the situation and not caused. The cause of the feelings are the fulfilled or unfulfilled needs (see next step). Through non-violent communication, actors take responsibility for their own feelings. Thus you get back the power over your own emotional world. If I feel good, it's because my needs are met. If you feel unwell, there are unmet needs. Now it is possible to ignore this or to take action against it. The latter succeeds with this method.

We differentiate between real feelings and those that tend to represent interpretations (ignored, misunderstood, etc.). The reason for this is that the interlocutor tends to feel pushed into a corner with the latter, because something is imputed to him. This does not happen when real feelings are mentioned. The seven basic emotions of Paul Ekman (American anthropologist and psychologist) help with the analysis: surprise, disgust, joy, anger, sadness, fear, contempt.

In a business context, it is easier Talking about surprise or irritation rather than admitting that you are afraid or that you may feel helpless. It is often the case that people do not dare to reveal their feelings, especially if they have the impression that this could be exploited. Those who communicate authentically and non-violently are more likely to reach their counterparts than when someone utters threats or warnings. This would not settle a dispute, but fuel it even more. The example: “I walked past you in the hallway and said hello, you didn't come back with a hello. "I'm surprised,…"

3. Recognize needs

The basic assumption is that our needs trigger our feelings. If they are fulfilled, we are fine. If our needs are not met, we feel uncomfortable. In order to change the latter, it is essential to recognize the needs that have not been met and to take remedial action (this is done through the fourth step “Please”). In the example above, it would mean “because contact is important to me.” When wording it, it is important to ensure that this feeling is present “because contact is important to me” and not “because you did not say hello to me”.

Our needs guide our actions. We are responsible for our own needs. There are different ways of fulfilling them: we can fulfill them ourselves or ask others. Various strategies are available for this. Another finding is that people are not responsible for meeting the needs of others. This is not about pure egoism, but about paying attention to your own needs and seeing that your own strength depends on how we deal with ourselves and our needs. In other words: the needs are recognized as a motivator for action.

4. Request change

It does not stop at this analysis. The last step, the request, changes something in the situation and an orientation towards action takes place. ("Can you please tell me whether you have seen me?") Thus, nonviolent communication covers both levels of communication, the factual level (through observation and request) and the relational level (through feeling and need).

If people are given the opportunity to volunteer, they are happy to do so. However, as soon as pressure comes on, they close themselves off and are less willing to help. Hence, it is important that you make requests with the correct attitude. As a request and not as a demand, so that your counterpart has the opportunity not to comply with this request. This request can be addressed to yourself, to the person concerned with whom the situation exists, or to someone else. The request can be very simple. For example Can you please tell me if you are ready to talk to me about this topic? Or Can you explain why

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