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“It is always thus, impelled by a state of mind which is destined not to last, that we make our irrevocable decisions.” – Marcel Proust

Research indicates that the summer heat increases aggression. It can lead to people making impulsive, irrational decisions that are harmful to their long term self interest; some people also experience a feeling of being ‘out of control’ and all this can result in workplace conflicts.

The means to accelerate or facilitate conflict resolution are diverse and involve a number of considerations:

1. Clarify the Conflict Situation: Sometimes, fuelled by the heat of the moment, we jump to conclusions and fail to see the real problem. To resolve the conflict, try to understand what the other person’s underlying beliefs and values are and try to see the situation through their eyes.

2. Focus on an Exchange: When caught up in a situation, we may jump to conclusions and not make an effort to seek an exchange through which both party’s interests are highlighted. Avoid making ego an issue and strive for a win-win solution by talking it through. Anything other than that will be a short term victory and will not bring a lasting resolution.

3. Emphasise Legitimacy: Do not think that your point of view is the only one. Your attitude should not be ‘my way or the highway’. Try to acknowledge the significance of what the other person believes to be important enough to argue or fight about.

4. Consider Creating Distance: If you are still no closer to resolving a situation, create physical distance from the other party to calm emotions, allow rational perspectives on the issues to develop and underlying interests to change. Give your escalated emotions a chance to simmer down because things always look different after you sleep over them.

Awareness is the first step towards regulating or managing conflict; we ought to develop a coherent set of warning systems and improve mitigation measures to ultimately save our career and interpersonal relations.

— Fauzia Kerai Khan
The writer is Chief Consultant, i&b Consulting, Training and eLearning. fauzia@iandbconsulting.com

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on May 22, 2011.

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