Preventing Conflict


By Kimberly West Business, Marketing & Sales Consultant Conflict happens! It happens without any bad intention. Conflict and disagreements occur because of different perceptions and observations; different interpretations placed on the meaning of things; different feelings people bring to situations and different desired outcomes. The key to preventing conflict and achieving desired outcomes is to craft an agreement for results that can serve a the road-map from where you are to where you want to be. This agreement should contain the following items:

  1. What is the detailed vision of what you want to achieve with as much detail as you can think of. What will things look like 3, 6,12 months out.
  2. How will you measure success. What are the agreed objective benchmarks you will use to measure if you achieved the vision.
  3. Make detailed promises of what each of you will do and have consequences for breaking promises.
  4. Share fears and concerns about moving forward together. Get on the table what might get in the way of fully trusting and committing to achieving the results you want.
  5. Use the above dialogue for developing relationship and deepening trust. Once relationship is established you can work through anything. The detailed agreement is not nearly as important as the relationship. As long as you can continue to work together you will achieve results beyond expectation.

Resolving Conflict: Remember all conflict happens at emotional level The emotional triggers prevent the resolution. Deal with the emotion and whatever the “fight” was about will resolve itself. To resolve conflict effectively remember:

  1. Most conflict is not the result of any kind of negative attention. Because of differences in people, failure to get clear at the beginning and inexact language conflict happens. Don’t be so quick to blame
  2. Conflict shows up as a stress reaction. Before you can engage in meaningful collaborative dialogue you must manage your stress.
  3. The two keys to resolving conflict effectively are a.) listening and understanding the other’s point of view; and b.) forgiveness – letting go of how you are holding them and the situation.
  4. Conflict lives inside each of us as a story – it’s the way we talk to ourselves about the situation. For both catharsis, and to share details everyone get’s to tell their story from beginning to end, without interruption.
  5. The goal is to reach a new agreement for the future. To get you engaged in doing that keep in mind that as long as the conflict exists you are paying a price for bringing the conflict with you.

Negotiating Excellence: Remember, the game is not to win, but to reach an agreement everyone can win with.

  1. The most powerful form of negotiating is to find out what they want and figure out how to give it to them; and to let them know what you want and to get them figuring out how to give you what you need.
  2. Always leave something on the table. If the deal is too sharp it will come back to haunt you because everyone will not be able to perform.
  3. Think in terms of a long term collaboration, not a short term transaction. This will help you to create a relationship which is critical if you want to continue working together.
  4. Get beneath positions to the concerns that are behind them. Find out what they are really concerned about and take care of it.
  5. Games and withholding are ploys that never work. Everything always gets reveled so you might as well let it all out and deal with it.

Special thanks to Stewart Levine for his input into this column. Kimberly West & Allison Turner are business, marketing and sales consultants for their company BCoSF, Inc d/b/a Business Consultants of South Florida. They are passionate about teaching other entrepreneurs and business owners how to successfully start or grow a sustainable and profitable business through their strategic and methodical business, marketing and sales consulting. They are also available for on-site training. For more information visit or call 561-276-4422. 301 W Atlantic Ave. Suite 05, Delray Beach, FL 33444. Your Success IS Our Business!