How to escalate or de-escalate a conflict

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All of us are in or have been in a conflict recently. I hope this isn’t your situation but my wife and I seem to be in the midst of a series of on again/off again conflicts related to our house renovation. There is no shortage of opportunities in life to get worked up, but where will that get you? I’m trying to use the list of the following factors to help me navigate how I can de-escalate my conflicts and my heart rate.

Escalating factors

Want to make matters worse? Do these things.

  • Making it personal
  • Calling out a trend in the other party’s behavior/opinions
  • Not being comfortable with conflict (i.e. getting emotional and not paying attention to your bodily queues)
  • Failing to recognize or articulate the high level of perceived risk or serious consequences associated with the issue
  • Interacting too quickly (i.e. wait to send that email!)

De-escalating factors

Want to get to your goal quicker? Do these things.

  • Identify your common ground
  • Focus on the issue, not the people
  • Focus on interests, not positions
  • Be willing to embrace differences
  • Make an effort to understand the other side
  • Interact more slowly (be sure you are being true to who you are)

At the end of the day, it might feel good for a moment to tell someone how they have a “trend” of [insert wrong behavior here] but how is that going to get you closer to your goal?

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou

This list has helped me today, I hope it helps you!

🗒 I came across this and other communication-related tips while reviewing the treasure troves of learning resources offered at Automattic.
I do work there and you can too. 😃

Comments welcome!