Effective conflict resolution invariably comes down to effective communication, and while this is a broad field, there are some core principles to respecting individuals and showing a genuine desire to seek a resolution.
Here are eight ways to in improve your communication in conflict situations.
Be clear about what you want to achieve
Although your first response may be to want to get rid of an angry employee, it is better long-term to ensure that the other person is satisfied their complaint has been dealt with properly.
Never promise what you can't deliver
It may make them feel better now, but when you don’t do what you said you would, the consequences will be worse.
Take responsibility for what you can
Rigidly saying “there is nothing I can do about that, it's company policy" will just irritate the other person and make the conflict worse.
Validate the other person’s feelings
It's ok to say that you understand why they might be angry, as long as you are also seen to be seeking a solution. “I know you are angry… I also know that…”
Get as much specific information about the client's perception of the problem as possible
Not only does this communicate interest, but it will also help you in resolving the problem in a manner satisfactory to the other person. Asking questions and listening to the answers can turn an argument into a discussion. “Who, precisely…?” “What, precisely…”
Stay calm and focused on the desire to resolve the problem
When confronted with aggression, the normal response is to prepare for fight or flight by producing adrenalin. Pause and take a slow breath, relax your shoulders. Do not allow the other person’s anger to provoke you.
Take time to walk a mile in the other person’s shoes
There is a valuable exercise called the perceptual positions exercise, which is derived from the field of NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and is useful in all sorts of conflict situations. First, choose the communication that you wish to explore—this exchange should be one that resulted in conflict. It is usually easier to learn with an example of bad communication rather than a really bad experience. If the communication lasted some time it is also useful to identify a particular part of it that seems to be more significant. As you explore different perspectives to this communication, use your imagination throughout, to see in your mind’s eye how you feel the communication will go.