2 Tips for Resolving Conflict Wisely

The shortest distance to solve a conflict does not take the path of a triangle.

One of the best interview questions to ask, regardless of the position is, “Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with another person and how did you resolve it?”

This question was asked in an interview panel I was a part of and I loved the applicant’s response.  She started by stating, “I don’t practice triangular conflict resolution,” and then proceeded to describe a situation in which she went directly to the person the conflict was with in order to resolve the issue instead of sharing the conflict with a third party.

I know I’ve been guilty of avoiding conflict with others by not addressing it head-on, which in most cases only makes it worse.  I’ve also been guilty of acting as someone’s third point in the triangle of his or her conflict, getting involved when it was not my place to do so.

So how can we all help ourselves and help others to handle conflict wisely?:

  1. Demonstrate straight-line conflict resolution.    If you have a problem with someone, go directly to that person in private to solve the conflict.  If you can’t go directly to that person to discuss it in person (not in an email), then it can’t be that big of an issue.
  2. Don’t form the third point in the triangle for people.  If someone comes to you with a problem with another person, ask them if they have discussed the problem with that person.  If they haven’t, direct them to do so.   Don’t get in the middle.

What has been your best method for resolving conflict?

Mary Ila Ward

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