Guidance, Soft skills & personality
35 Conflict resolution strategies – How to get out when a conflict escalates

Table of contents

We always like to have good conflict resolution strategies at the ready, because a solution to a conflict sometimes seems unattainable. Conflicts often escalate and destructive communication patterns leave scorched earth in their wake. We show you how to get out of a drama dynamic and even better: how best not to get involved in the first place. As a basis for this, we described in our last article how escalation occurs: the dynamics of the drama triangle.

Conflict resolution strategies:

How to get out of destructive communication.

The winning triangle:

How do you get out of the drama triangle and how do you resolve a conflict? Which conflict resolution strategies are appropriate in which situation?
Here comes the theory first:
Aceh Choy developed the Winner Triangle in 1990 as a solution model for the drama triangle. In order to activate a winner’s triangle instead of a drama triangle, it is necessary to accept the responsibility that you really have in the respective situation, but also to leave the responsibility of others with you and not get involved.
– In the Winner Triangle, the victim is vulnerable, but not helpless. On the contrary: it actively and independently searches for solutions and options.
– The rescuer shows care by listening to the victim, but is not biased. Nor does he take responsibility for issues that someone else has to tackle.
– And the persecutor expresses his needs clearly and fairly without blame or punishment.
So much for the theory – but how do you put it into practice? Here are tips on how you can act in critical moments:
>> Read here:
How to resolve conflicts quickly – the 8 steps of the conflict spiral

From rescuer to coach.

The positive counterpart to the rescuer is the coach. The coach assumes that everyone is capable of mastering their life. He does not try to fix anyone, but rather supports his counterpart in creating the life that he or she really wants.
Conflict resolution strategies:
  1. Encourage your counterpart to take responsibility and find solutions.
  2. Don’t solve the problem, let the person solve it themselves.
  3. Ask: How do you want to deal with this? What do you want to achieve? How can you achieve this?
  4. Clearly limit the time and energy you want to spend.

From victimhood to personal responsibility.

The helpless victim becomes someone who takes responsibility and tackles things themselves.
Conflict resolution strategies:
  1. True to the motto “Love it, change it or leave it”, ask yourself: What do I need and what can I do about it? But what should I let go of because I can’t change it?
  2. Take responsibility for your own feelings: no one can make you feel bad if you don’t let them.
  3. Change your perspective: What is good about what is happening right now?
  4. Make yourself strong: What can I do, what have I achieved? What am I grateful for?
  5. Don’t whine!

From persecutor to constructive problem solver.

The constructive problem solver analyzes a situation and tries to understand the causes. He communicates his wishes objectively and fairly. He avoids apportioning blame and instead compares maps in order to find solutions together.
Conflict resolution strategies:
  1. Describe the unsatisfactory situation. Give examples and facts.
  2. Set boundaries and point out consequences.
  3. Avoid interpretations and generalizations. Ask instead of assuming.
  4. Refrain from apportioning blame or criticizing.
  5. Always acknowledge your own part in a problem.
  6. Support and encourage you to find solutions together.
>> Read here:
What is really important to people – The 8 fundamental values according to the Graves value model

Do not get involved!

Do you remember our first example? Employee X has not given you the required data. They angrily confront him (persecutor), he justifies himself (victim), whereupon his office neighbor (rescuer) jumps to his side to protect him.
How about that? You notice that the data from X is not being delivered as planned. You are looking for options: Maybe you can get the data elsewhere and avoid becoming a victim. Or you can ask X for the data in a friendly and clear manner before it is too late and thus avoid becoming a persecutor. Maybe X is not as incompetent as you thought – maybe X doesn’t have the data, is overworked or has no idea that the information is urgently needed by you. And your office neighbor may be able to provide you and X with constructive and practical support in obtaining the data in this situation by asking how she can help.
This strategy takes you from drama to personal responsibility. You can stay on the factual level and solve the actual problem. Instead of falling into destructive, energy-sapping patterns due to the drama triangle, you and your colleagues can act more constructively and with more ease – and ultimately achieve more together.

How to get out of the drama triangle or not get into it in the first place.

You realize that a drama is active when your thoughts start to revolve around a situation and you can no longer let go. You can feel the momentum draining your energy. Anger or helplessness spreads, or you can’t get your own issues under control.
16. first aid tip when a drama triangle becomes active:
Leave the situation. Go and make sure you feel good again. Do something that puts you in a good mood or think about something you like. Try not to give any space to the feeling that the situation has triggered and concentrate on something else, because getting upset, getting worked up about the feeling or talking excitedly about it will keep you stuck in the drama triangle.
>> Read here:
What makes “life balance” so difficult – and how you can achieve it
There is a lot more you can do to move towards conflict resolution.
You can get off the “drama triangle”, which is sometimes a drama carousel
  1. By recognizing which roles you tend to play.
  2. If you pay attention to your feelings in a certain situation. Do you feel inferior and weak (victim), aggressive or impatient and superior (persecutor) or do you feel competent, helpful and morally superior (rescuer)?
  3. By stepping out of your role.
  4. By pausing and asking yourself the following questions as early as possible:

Conflict resolution strategies, so if a victim is whining, sending you an invitation to go into the rescuer, ask yourself the following questions:

Anti-savior questions
  1. Did the other person ask me for help?
  2. Is the situation suitable for support (do I have the time / resources to deal with it)?
  3. Do I feel like supporting or am I being paid for it?
  4. Do I believe that I know something better or can do something better than someone else? Do I feel superior? Am I prepared to consider the other person an adult?

Conflict resolution strategies when someone approaches you as a persecutor, i.e. sends you an invitation to take on the role of victim:

Anti-victim issues
  1. Do I feel equal? Or do I feel helpless or powerless?
  2. Do I feel responsible for my own feelings?
  3. Do I know what I want or need? Am I prepared to do something about it?
  4. Do I want change to happen?
  5. Am I prepared to act in accordance with the help offered?

Conflict resolution strategies when someone annoys you, does something wrong, behaves stupidly, so you get an invitation to go into the chaser:

Anti-tracker questions
  1. Am I referring to the matter or negatively to the person and their behavior?
  2. Do I feel more okay than the other(s)?
  3. Am I looking for guilt or for solutions?
  4. What is possibly my own part in the situation?
  5. Have I considered all aspects of the situation?
  6. Am I prepared to take responsibility for conflict resolution?
Would you like to find out which patterns and dynamics lead to a conflict escalating in the first place?

How a conflict escalates: The dynamics of the drama triangle.

Good luck!

The authors

Kassandra Knebel
Susanne Grätsch
Berliner Team