5 Steps To Diffusing Conflict

Mitch SmithRootloud.com Blog


How often do you find yourself being brought into some heated discussion or improbable situation? It is not a matter of ‘if’ you will, but ‘when’ you will. Life has issues. Conflicts occur in our work environments, homes, neighborhoods, places of worship and even sporting events. These situations generally have intense emotion, and not managing it could make things worse.

For success to occur, you must create a safe environment for the person(s) and build immediate trust. If you do not do this, the person will merely erect walls to protect themselves from you. There are 5 steps you can take to improve the environment for the person. For a person to be real, there must be safety and trust to bring down the emotion and intensity. The goal is to get to the root of the ‘real’ issue so that you can assist. Let’s look at 5 steps to diffusing a conflict using LEAPS acronym.

  • Listen
  • Empathize
  • Ask questions
  • Paraphrase
  • Summarize

The ability to listen is one of the greatest attributes we can have in every situation. To be effective, we must listen without bias. We need to accurately receive and interpret the message(s). Studies have proven that an effective listener can lower both the blood pressure and heart rate of the other person.

When we empathize with someone, we use words and signals to let them know we are hearing them and have some understanding of their situation and have walked in their shoes. Like listening, empathizing stimulates the brain and relaxes the person. Empathy is the builder of trust.

Asking questions, especially open-ended questions, allows the person to share what has triggered their emotions. The more they share, the deeper the perspective you gain. With Cause & Effect questions, you gain some great insight. Example questions include:

Why do you think this happened? How could this have been prevented?

Good questions allow you determine truth from a self-serving point of view. Questions also allow the person to clarify a point in their words, which sometimes allows the person to see the reality of the moment. The words “oh yeah” may be heard.

Paraphrasing allows the person to know that you heard them, maybe not exactly, but you were listening. If you misunderstood, allow them to correct you. Like questions, paraphrasing what the person has said will allow them to hear their words. It acts like a reflecting mirror. Be careful not to shame the person with your tone. Tone, when paraphrasing is very important if you want to build trust and safety for this person.

After paraphrasing what was said, giving the person a brief summary of what you have learned. The summary will reflect your voice and tone, but remember not to let your tone shame the person in any way. Three core qualities needed in this final phase called summary are- it must be brief, concise, and indisputable. You should speak, with professionalism, and state the next steps to be taken. Hopefully, these 5 steps have removed the conflict completely.

For more information about building great communication within an organization, go to Rootloud.com or contact us today.

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Mitch Smith

Mitch Smith is the executive's trusted advisor on technology, strategy, performance improvement, and selecting the right talent. He is a serial technology entrepreneur from Charleston, and has successfully launched five technology firms over 24 years. He is an author and sought-after speaker. He and his wife of 22 years enjoy the outdoors with their three children.

Mitch, and his companies, have served over 570 organizations that include: Aflac, Chick-fil-A, Bose, Cardinal Logistics, Comporium, Darden Restaurants, Dave Ramsey, Genentech, HP, Hobby Lobby, Home Telcom, Jabil, Milliken, Nokia, Southeastern Freight, VF Corporation, and many more.
Mitch Smith
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