How to Resolve Conflict Positively

It’s summer and it’s really hot over almost all of the USA. The heat must be getting on a lot of people’s nerves, as I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about how to win arguments. I think this is the wrong approach. Winning isn’t as important as maintaining your relationships.

When you find yourself in conflict with someone, I suggest that you look for ways to resolve the conflict in a manner that meets both of your needs and does no harm to your relationship. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t stand up for yourself and your point of view; only that you should do your best to resolve conflict in a productive manner.

Tweet 135 in my career success book Success Tweets says, “Be a consensus builder. Focus on where you agree with others. It will be easier to resolve difference and create agreement.”

My favorite method for dealing with conflict is counter-intuitive. By definition, conflict is a state of disagreement. When I’m in conflict with someone, however, instead of focusing on where we disagree, I focus on where we agree.

This is a great way to not only resolve conflict positively, it helps strengthen relationships. And, as we all know, conflict often leads to a deterioration of relationships. So to me this approach is a no-brainer. First, you get to resolve conflict positively. Second, you strengthen your relationships. Third, you improve your chances of becoming a life and career success.

I look for any small point of agreement and then try to build on it. I find that it is easier to reach a larger agreement when I build from a point of small agreement, rather than attempting to tear down the other person’s points with which I don’t agree.

Most people don’t do this. They get caught up in proving their point. They hold on to it more strongly when someone else attacks it. If you turn around the discussion and say, “Let’s focus where we agree, and see if we can build something from there,” you are making the situation less personal. Now the two of you are working together to figure out a mutually agreeable solution to your disagreement. You’re not tearing down one another’s arguments just to get your way. Try this during these long hot summer days when tempers get frayed. It works.

There are two common sense career success coach points here: one, take responsibility for yourself. Tell people how you feel. Don’t let others do things that make your life unpleasant. And two, stand up for yourself in an assertive, non-aggressive way. Resolve conflict positively. Treat conflict as an opportunity to strengthen, not destroy, the relationships you’ve worked hard to build. Conflict can destroy relationships – and it can strengthen them. When you find yourself in conflict with another person, choose to see it as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them. The career advice here is simple. Resolve conflict by acting in a positive, proactive and assertive manner.

That’s my advice on dealing with conflict this hot summer. What do you think? Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment. I am especially interested in hearing stories where you tired my approach – and it worked.

As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success. I value you and appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, I suggest that you check out my career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained. The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less. The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail. Go to to claim your free copy. You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: Have you seen my membership site, My Corporate Climb? It’s devoted to helping people just like you create career success inside large corporations. You can find out about it by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.



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