Do You Know How to De-escalate Conflict?

Many business professionals today have trouble talking face-to-face with others. They rely on texts, IMs, and emails. The problem is, those communication methods are not highly proficient in uncovering miscommunications or understanding someone’s true feelings about a topic because there is no tone or context – they are only words. As a result, conflicts, upsets, disagreements and hurt feelings occur. These limit a leader’s effectiveness in achieving intended results and keeping team members happy.

The challenge? Most people are fearful of talking with another person and fail to take responsibility for developing skills that elicit the best in others. Conflicts will occur. Before everyone heads for cover, learn how to de-escalate conflict and get everyone talking to reach win-win-win solutions.

Here are 3 Techniques …

Take Turns. While this sounds easy to do, it’s not in the heat of the moment. Let the other person go first to state their thoughts and opinions, and listen. Then, repeat back what you heard them say to their satisfaction before sharing your thoughts and opinions. Keep doing this until you reach either an agreement or both agree to disagree.

Keep Talking. Giving team members the silent treatment or giving up on your concerns as unimportant during a conversation won’t make a difference. Why? They know you stopped listening. Their natural response will be to raise their voice so you can hear them and you may become fearful of their yelling. Remember, their upset has been building for a while … so don’t interrupt them while they are talking. If you do, they will simply start back at the beginning. If you participate by raising your voice, it will only result in an escalation of raised voices and additional upsets – with no winners. Again, take turns sharing ideas as mentioned in the above paragraph. When voices are raised unnecessarily, remind them, in a quiet voice, you only hear part of what they are saying when they speaking louder than what you feel comfortable with.

Agree to Disagree. Whenever someone presents a point of view we don’t agree with, we will normally communicate verbally and subtly, “You’re wrong.” This will create defensiveness in the other person and will shut down further communication, escalating upsets. The key is, talk it out! Most conflicts or disagreements can be resolved by taking turns to talk things out. In situations where there appears to be no agreement, it’s far more effective to say, “It seems like we disagree about that.” Why? Because it’s a fact. Table the conversation and make sure to come back to it later after further evaluation.

As a leader, you can pay now or pay later. Resolving conflict and developing healthy discussions are critical to resolve anything! Take the time now to develop the skills required for you and your team, before the issues escalate and it becomes difficult to resolve in a win-win-win manner.

©Jeannette L. Seibly, 2016

As an executive, business owner and fast-track leader, communication is everything. Get your copy of: How to Have a Conversation Beyond 140 Characters! (Break through your #1 fear when having conversations!) OR contact Jeannette to provide training sessions for you and your team members.

Jeannette Seibly has been a business advisor and executive coach for 24 years; along the way she’s guided the creation of three millionaires. She is laser sharp at identifying the leverage points that will take a business and its team to the next level of performance and success. Check out her website,, or contact Jeannette for a free, confidential conversation at

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