5 Strategies for Overcoming Conflict

UPDATED: October 14, 2014
PUBLISHED: October 14, 2014

Speaker Les Brown says it’s time to stop avoiding conflict and instead look for ways to conflict more effectively. Here are some tips for resolving conflict in your workplace and professional life.

1. Don’t be afraid of conflict.

Too many of us become agitated when we encounter conflict or disagreement out of concern and fear. It’s odd when you think about it because conflict is a part of nature, a part of life, and unless you are a hermit, odds are that it’s inescapable.

You need to approach conflict calmly, as an expected part of dealing with others. Consider conflict as a way of learning to see things in a more clear way.

2. Abandon the concept of winning and losing when faced with conflict.

Instead, adopt a strategy of resolution. Unless you are on a battlefield, chances are the person you come into conflict with is not the enemy, but instead someone whose goals are generally the same as—or at least interrelated with—yours.

So instead of approaching the conflict with the attitude of stopping it, think of redirecting the energy toward a common target. War is part of our nature, but the most successful societies have been built on cooperation. And common goals are great unifiers.

When the other side senses that you are interested in finding a solution—common or not, yet—you likely will have created an ally where a potential adversary once stood. Rather than confrontation, you can work together in collaboration to find a solution that suits both sides.

Related: The Secret to Smart Negotiations Is Simply Empathy

3. Avoid negative or confrontational language.

Stop using “buts” and “you’re wrongs.”

Try using positive language that disarms rather than confronts, like, “I can see your point, and here is where I’m coming from…” or “I understand your position, and…”

4. Talk through the situation with a neutral party to gain perspective and clarity from that person.

It is always helpful to get a problem out in the open.

People you trust and who understand your frame of reference can provide valuable input. They can help you better understand what you are going through and tell you, for better or worse, whether they think you have properly judged or handled the situation.

5. Find something to distract you from the conflict.

Distance yourself from the problem. Start a new project, plan a family outing or take off on a vacation or weekend getaway.

Sometimes you have to clear your mind. The time allows you to reevaluate your position and maybe even come back with a fresh perspective of how to resolve that nagging conflict.

Related: 5 Tips to End Workplace Conflict Once and For All


Les Brown is a world-renowned motivational speaker, TV personality and best-selling author of It’s Not Over Until You Win, Up Thoughts for Down Times and Fight For Your Dream, among others.