Speaking in broad terms, active listening will bring you the most success when managing a conflict situation. Regardless of what formal or informal conflict resolution process you are utilizing, active listening will be required.

For those who are not familiar, active listening is the process through which the greatest level of understanding occurs. Too often we listen with the intention of responding, rather than understanding. Active listening creates mutual understanding because it requires such things as open and closed questions, paraphrasing, turn taking, etc. This exchange of information between individuals leads to a reduction in anxiety and an increase in trust. With trust and understanding, true problem solving can occur.

Conflicts occur because there is a lack of understanding, fear and not feeling heard. Develop your active listening skills and you will find that you can resolve most of your conflicts without assistance from a third party or formal structure such as mediation. If that turns out to be required anyway, you’ll be prepared to engage in it to its fullest potential.


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