Soft skills & personality
Resolving conflicts – how to conduct constructive conflict discussions

Table of contents

How to resolve conflicts? How to conduct a constructive conflict discussion – and how not to.
Plus answers to all questions on conflict resolution.

Resolve conflicts

Conflicts are good!

We encounter conflicts everywhere.
As if it weren’t enough that everything and everyone has to get faster and faster. No, the number of conflicts also seems to be getting higher and higher: in earlier times, things seemed to be structured more simply – everyone had their own position, you had to deal with far fewer people and not everyone felt the need to make their opinion known all the time.
Today there are permanent changes, more communication interfaces, more open expression of opinion. Conflicts seem to occur more frequently, and not only online. There are also conflicts at work with colleagues, customers, suppliers or the management.
– But is that a bad thing?
No! Uncomfortable perhaps, but if we have a few communication skills at the ready, we can generate more closeness and trust. Yes, also from conflicts. We promise.


Role conflict


What is a conflict?

Definition of conflict

A conflict is a collision of wishes, goals and needs of people or systems. Unlike problems, conflicts cannot be resolved on a factual level; conflicts are emotional in nature.

Conflict example

Cause of conflict

It happens again and again: Angelika, 47, is totally annoyed. The international Zoom meeting yesterday with 60 people could have gone much better for her! Her task was to give a presentation to colleagues, with lots of graphics and in English. Angelika is not so good at either English or creating graphics. So a few days ago, she sent everything over to Martin, 33, from Marketing and asked for help. Two months ago, he had boldly advertised that he could do this. So he should now support her too, she thinks. “But what is he doing? Nothing! Not even a rejection – nothing at all. – How ass! He knew how important this Zoom meeting was!”
And today, during the team’s wrap-up, he looks past her, ignores her and smiles smugly. She suspects what he’s thinking: “I’ve shown her. Let her see where she is.” That drives her up the wall. The colleague has been there for six months and they’re not working together at all. It’s really annoying.


Feedback from colleagues


Smouldering conflict

“Have you ever mentioned it?” asks her friend Sophie. Angelica replies: “There’s no point at all. He’s the ignorant type. You can’t talk to him at all.” She had sent him more material, but nothing came of it.
Angelica is at her wit’s end. What else is she supposed to do? The guy just ignores them.
For her, Martin’s disappearance meant tinkering with graphics all night so that she wouldn’t embarrass herself. And ask friends for help on whether the English is okay.
What kind of team is it if one lets the other down? You just don’t do that!

Tips for conflicts

Angelika’s spat with Martin – which Martin doesn’t even know about yet – is an absolute classic among workplace conflicts.
Conflicts occur again and again in everyday life. Everyone knows them. When conflicts arise, they absorb our attention and we can’t think about anything else because of all the emotions. That’s not nice.
There will always be different interests, opinions and so on, but does this necessarily lead to arguments and anger?
Can conflicts perhaps also be avoided?
Yes, you can.
It is important that you first look at what a conflict actually is, what causes it, what triggers there are – and then: what conflict resolution strategies can be. Do you feel like it?
Ok – here we go!




Difference between conflict and problem

In this article, we distinguish between conflicts and problems. These two are often confused, although they are fundamentally different. In this respect, conflict resolution and problem solving also differ from one another.
What are the differences between conflict and problem?
  • Problem:

    We speak of a problem when it can be solved objectively, i.e. when the parties involved are not emotionally involved. Negotiations can take place and, for example, a more sensible solution can be agreed or a compromise reached.
  • Conflict:

    The moment we relate the wishes, goals or needs of the other person to ourselves and possibly even assume that the other person has a negative intention, it becomes emotional. Then we are talking about a conflict.

Where the problem ends and the conflict begins: an example

Jonas, 32, has been vegan for 8 years because he wants to protect animals and the climate. Silke, 45, eats a low meat diet, but fish and cheese are simply part of good food for her. Both work for a small training provider. An excursion is on the agenda: All 17 employees are going on a hike, lunch is to be served in a mountain restaurant and a guided tour of the castle has been booked for the afternoon.
If everyone could order whatever they wanted in the restaurant, there would be no problem. But that’s not possible: the kitchen has said that it can only serve one dish at a time for this number of people or promised long waiting times. Then the castle tour would fall flat. Jonas and Silke, who are organizing the trip together, have to make a decision.


This is not yet a conflict. A conflict only exists when it becomes emotional:
Silke, for example, grumbles to herself: “Oh dear, does Jonas have to insist on vegan now when so many people want to eat fish? What’s the point?” When Jonas gets angry on top of that: “Silke knows full well that I don’t eat animals and will otherwise go home empty-handed. Just because she wants fish, should everyone eat it now or what? – Eating plant-based just once, what’s the problem with that?”

Solving the problem AND the conflict

In this case, an objective solution would be to take a dish that you can optionally supplement with fish. Or you can go vegan. Whatever the solution looks like: As long as everyone remains objective, it’s just a problem. Only when one or the other relates the behavior of the other to themselves, accuses them of selfishness and thinks that someone wants to assert themselves at their expense, does the problem leave the factual level and become a conflict.
Attention: If there was a conflict and the emotions were not addressed in the solution, but only the problem was solved, there may still be some frustration, anger and hurt left on the emotional level! These feelings can certainly smolder and surface again and again in similar situations. This quickly leads to arguments. If something like this becomes entrenched, it is essential that the emotional level is also addressed.


Non-violent communication


Causes of conflict: How do conflicts arise?

Let’s first take a look at how conflicts arise. Because when you get into a conflict, it’s really helpful to get into a meta position, i.e. to step out of the situation and look at it from above. Why? If you look at what you are doing right now, what is going on inside you, then you can understand the conflict much more easily. With this ability, it is also easier to understand others and thus steer towards conflict resolution.


Conflicts are often sparked by our patterns. What are patterns?
Patterns are automatically occurring feelings (and subsequent behaviors) that are triggered by a stimulus. People are very different – one person is very angry when things are said that leave others completely cold; another is sad and hurt, even though the other person didn’t mean it that way. Something in the behavior of others has triggered an emotional reaction in this person. People themselves often don’t know exactly what triggers them.
It is not easy to get to the bottom of our patterns. In a conflict, we are simply angry or hurt. And the firm conviction that the other person is to blame.
Why is that?

Past injustices

Our patterns develop through all the experiences we have had in our lives. Many conflicts are linked to experiences from the past, often from childhood.
Perhaps we have often been teased by other children and now we are irritated when others laugh and we don’t know exactly why. For example, if you have had the experience of your little brother always being favored, then you unconsciously make sure that this doesn’t happen to you again. If there is a situation that you could interpret as an injustice, then you are more likely to do so than someone who has never suffered this injury: If the boss assigns your colleague the project management you would have liked to have, then you may sense arbitrariness and cronyism rather than objective reasons.
Imagine it like this: You and your colleague are walking over a surface full of blunders. In this case, the fat balls are buttons that you don’t see. If your colleague steps on it, a trapdoor opens beneath you and you fall in. The children’s basement floor is your past and you feel like a child again. It takes quite a while for you to make it back up to the adult, objective level.

Different levels of sensitivity

We usually don’t see the triggers coming. And not only that: everyone has different triggers and reacts with different feelings. The intensity of feelings also varies: Some are very close to their inner children and take things more to heart than others. People process conflicts differently.
Since it is not possible to derive any rules as to who will react when and how, it makes sense to deal with conflicts in order to learn how conflicts can be resolved and, ideally, avoided altogether.




What types of conflict are there?

  1. Unfulfilled expectations

One of the most important causes of conflict is unfulfilled expectations.
An expectation would be, for example: Angelika sends Martin a request for help and expects him to get back to her within a maximum of two days to accept or cancel. Angelika is of the opinion that this expectation is completely justified: “That’s not too much to expect!” Now Martin is not living up to this expectation. For Angelica, this results in something like a disturbance message and a conflict arises. She rumbles: “That’s not right! How can that be?” If she hadn’t expected anything, she wouldn’t have been disappointed.

Resolve conflict: No expectation, no disappointment, no conflict!

If you manage to accept everything that happens with an open mind, if you accept people as they are, if you manage not to judge and compare them with what you think is right or wrong, then you can have no conflict. This attitude borders on Buddhist equanimity and this is very rare, at least in this country. Nonetheless – perhaps it should be a goal to be open and curious. At least we would all find it much easier to adopt this attitude in our VUCA world:
The more you insist that the world should be the way you want it to be, the more you have ideas and plans about exactly how everything should turn out, the more you can be disappointed. This means that an open, receptive attitude is helpful when dealing with a rapidly changing VUCA world. At least you would save yourself a lot of frustration, doubt and anxiety. Because those who approach things with the feeling “No matter what happens, it will be fine” will get on best.

Comparison of expectations

Before you get emotional, ask yourself whether your expectations are justified: Are your expectations perhaps very high? What standards do you apply? And then there is the important question of whether the other person knows your expectations. Have you already talked about it? Does he/she see it the same way?

Difference between expectation and agreement

Questioning your own expectations does not mean that you have to put up with everything: If agreements are not kept, then you should of course respond to this. However, this is about an agreement that has been made and not about the fact that one party imagines it one way and the other another. And even then, it’s worth asking first what the reason is for not sticking to the agreement, instead of brooding over the laziness or indifference of the other person.


Disputes and conflicts in the team


  1. Misinterpretation

We all feel the same way as Angelica in our example: when our expectations are not met, we start to wonder why this is the case. And unfortunately, we humans tend to interpret the worst in the situation and assume that the other person is up to no good. There are reasons for this:


In the distant past, it was better to be suspicious once too often than once too little. Assessing a situation too negatively and acting accordingly could save you from harm in case of doubt. In other words: it’s better to hit the other person over the head than to let them beat you to it. It’s better to beat the friendly guy to death than to be nice yourself and be beaten to death because you weren’t suspicious once. This survival strategy worked.
And well: we are the descendants of those who assumed bad things about others for safety’s sake and not of those who were slain because they mistakenly assumed something good. The negative thinkers have survived… Negative interpretation is in our genes, whether we like it or not.

Resolve conflict: Detach yourself from your negative interpretation!

So don’t believe everything you think.
Now that you know that your brain works in such a way that it automatically assumes the worst first, you know that this doesn’t necessarily have to be the truth.

Three steps to conflict

Interpretation is the third step on the way to conflict.
  1. Perception
  2. Rating
  3. Interpretation
In Angelica’s case, this would be: she doesn’t hear anything for 2 days (perception), she judges “that’s too late!” and interprets “the guy doesn’t care about me” – but this interpretation doesn’t have to correspond to reality. Martin may have been busy, was working on an external project or the mail ended up in the spam folder and so on.

Video on the conflict spiral

Conflict management: How do I resolve conflicts?
Avoiding or resolving conflicts? Here you can see the phases of a conflict. We walk through the conflict spiral and show you how you can get out again at every step. For more constructive, harmonious interaction with one another.



  1. Different preferences – Ned Hermann’s four-quadrant model

People think differently and therefore choose different paths when approaching a task. Ned Hermann, who researched creative thinking, developed the whole brain model – the four-quadrant model of the brain. This is roughly divided into four thinking styles. To find out which thinking style dominates in a person, he used the HBDI Herman Brain Dominance Instrument, a questionnaire with 120 questions. This categorization is no longer new, but it gets to the heart of people’s different thinking preferences. The combination of the four preferences is different in every person.
For the sake of simplicity, we will generalize here. In real life, there are no “yellows”, “blues”, “reds” or “greens”.


Diversity H.D.I. Model Ned Herrmann


The four-quadrant model by Ned Hermann

  1. The yellow preference – creative, experimental, holistic. Just try it out; have a look.
Yellow is creative, visionary and holistically oriented. She:he can visualize things well, has ideas, sees the big picture, less the details. Yellow has everything on the screen at the same time instead of thinking step by step. Yellow ones can be found in creative professions. The small print is a horror for them, being reliable is rather difficult for them. Yellow people quickly feel chained down: rigid rules and guidelines are not to their liking, they need freedom to develop new ideas. They like to indulge in possibilities and you simply don’t need restrictions. Making discoveries, developing concepts and strategies – that’s what makes Gelb fun. Others, on the other hand, sometimes perceive yellow as unreliable, imprecise, de-focused and impulsive.
  1. The green preference – practical and organized. First plan precisely in order to move on to implementation.
Green is organized, structured and plans step by step. It goes without saying that they are punctual and well prepared. They have their goal in mind and the milestones that lead there are noted in the calendar. They read the small print because they want to know exactly what’s going on. Security, order and predictability are extremely important to them, because anything unexpected worries them. They cannot be unreliable at all. They want to control and tend to behave in a controlled manner. Discipline is their middle name, they do what needs to be done with great care. This makes them predictable and to some people they seem pedantic, boring and know-it-all.
  1. The red preference – emotional and impulsive. First the people, then the task.
Red makes sure that everyone feels comfortable. She/he is a team player, can adapt to and empathize with others. Being together with people is important to red, and the best way to do this is in harmony. Otherwise she:he will not feel comfortable, because red people feel deeply. It’s a good thing that Red is a master at communicating, dealing with customers, teaching – wherever a feel for others is required, Red scores highly. And if something isn’t going so well, Red wants to talk about it. For others, this sometimes comes across as a little too sensitive. Since red is all about sensitivities, this can come across as unprofessional.
  1. The blue preference – analytical and rational. Facts, facts, facts and then the analysis
Blue likes clarity and efficiency. He:she calculates and checks, asks critical questions and likes to stick to verifiable parameters and concrete facts. Blau proceeds with precision and care. Occupational fields in finance, controlling, technology, analysis and science are just right for blue. STEM professions are exactly Blue’s thing. Blau doesn’t believe in sentimentality and emotional stuff, it’s not effective. A goal is a goal. This sometimes makes her:him appear cold, rigid and calculating to others. Things are clear for Blue. She:he doesn’t like the wiping and trying things out, it doesn’t work seriously.

Potential for conflict

None of these preferences is better than the other. Each has advantages and disadvantages and is more appropriate in one situation than in another.
The descriptions have already hinted at it: one man’s joy is another man’s sorrow. Yellow and green like to get into each other’s hair when it comes to reliability and accuracy. Yellow suddenly has other priorities and is a little late. This causes Green to become tight-lipped, because the plan is in jeopardy. Now yellow is also having a crisis: “That’s really petty and you can’t have that kind of bullying.” Eyes roll at Team Yellow. Eyebrows furrowed at Team Green.
And blue and red also have classic areas of conflict: Red often takes blue’s cool objectivity personally and feels mistreated. Blue only seems to focus on numbers and completely forgets about people. Blue would probably walk over dead bodies… Red would like to talk about something like that. “You, we should talk about our cooperation. There are a few things I’m not comfortable with.” Blue quickly becomes impatient: “What’s all the moaning about? “Does everyone have to air their grievances? Can’t you do that at home? – It doesn’t matter now.” It’s obvious: these figures have to be achieved. That’s the point!

Resolve conflict: Focus on the strengths of the other person!

It can be assumed that Angelika is more at home in the green area and Martin is possibly at home in the yellow area. This naturally harbors potential for conflict.
If they could both focus on each other’s strengths instead of their weaknesses, they would make a great tandem, complementing each other instead of focusing on their differences.


Conflict escalates


  1. Conflicting values: Different values – the value square according to Schulz von Thun

Values also collide in conflicts. Values are what is really important to us, what gives us the answer to the question “why?”.
We have written a whole series of articles on this subject:
There is also an excellent psychological model for this: the values and development square by communication psychologist Friedemann Schulz von Thun . This is used for appraisal and feedback discussions.


Values Square Schultz Von Thun


The value square according to Schulz von Thun

Friedemann Schulz von Thun assumes that every value, every virtue has a so-called “sister virtue”. In principle, this is the counterpart, the other pole:
Thus, the ability to communicate has as its antithesis the ability to endure silence or to hold back. Both virtues can also be exaggerated and are then anything but positive: communicating and sharing then becomes distant babbling. The respectful reserve then turns into a dismissive grump.
Or: The ability to organize has the sister virtue of being flexible. Both good. But both also have a downside: obsessive control, micro-management and pedantry on the one hand and unreliability and lack of planning on the other.

Enemy images in the conflict of values

So far so good. Here is the crux of the matter: through the lens of one’s own values, one’s own virtue, the view of the sister virtue is distorted – and only its negative side is perceived.
The communicative person experiences the introverted person as stubborn, sociophobic and unfriendly. The quiet person experiences the open ones as overbearing, unprofessional, simply too much.
In organized versus flexible, the disrespectful, untrustworthy slob and the stuffy, bean-counting control freak are pitted against each other. Great.
Basically, this has many parallels to the ways of thinking described above. The only difference is that ways of thinking are unconscious, whereas values can be partially formulated and verbalized.
For example
  • “But that’s very unfriendly to answer so briefly. You don’t do that”,
  • “Attacking someone with your personal thoughts like that is simply not proper”,
  • “What’s he like? Going crazy when you arrive 5 minutes late can’t be healthy either”,
  • “You don’t do that: making someone wait is completely disrespectful”.

Resolve conflict: put your world view into perspective!

If you look at your counterpart through the lens of your own values, then you believe that your way of looking at and judging the world is “the right one”. Which, of course, is not the case. If you take your values as “the standard”, then you will hardly be able to have a sensible conversation, because you will always belittle the other person because they don’t meet your values.
Only when you both treat each other with respect and accept that you have different values can you talk objectively about what each of you needs to be happy and what solution you can find.
It can be assumed that Angelika and Martin have such a value dynamic. Perhaps Angelika is well planned, has fixed rules and routines and always replies by the next day at the latest. Martin, on the other hand, doesn’t want to be shooed away by his emails, his maxim: “Only those who can act freely can also think freely.” – And sometimes something slips through because he’s busy with something else. “I’ll be fine,” says Martin. He is ready to get involved and deal with everything that comes his way.
If Angelika is able to perceive Martin in this way, then she has a good chance of talking to him on a factual level, hearing his perspective and considering together how best to proceed in the future.


Conflict of objectives


  1. Conflicting goals: Different goals/needs

Even if everyone had the same values, there would still be conflicts. Conflicting goals, for example. This is very common in companies: each department has different tasks and therefore different goals, interests and needs. And, of course, different standards are used for evaluation. Things can go wrong quickly.

Let’s look at automotive sales and administration:

The aim of the administration is to maintain order. There are processes, rules and security measures to ensure that the customer pays. Steps must also be taken if a customer does not pay or does not pay on time. Legal requirements are often behind this. The administration needs clarity. Invoices must be issued within a short period of time, upper limits for goodwill are set and there are many other regulations. For employees in administration, the aim is to ensure that these rules are adhered to.
Sales is all about satisfying customers and selling your own products. If unusual measures are necessary in order to fulfill the customer’s wishes and ultimately realize the sale – then so be it. A sale is a sale.
Both goals are perfectly fine on their own; after all, everyone is doing what they were hired to do. But: Of course, unconventional processes in sales can cause difficulties for the administration. And too many rules can hinder sales. If someone in one department gets the impression that the other department is not taking its own goals into account out of selfishness, it becomes emotional and a conflict arises. In addition, in most cases there are people working in the respective department who have the values that correspond to the required task.

Resolve conflict: Make your goals transparent!

These targets must be agreed within the company! Only when there is transparency can this be discussed and mutual understanding developed.
Angelika also has a conflict of interest: she wanted to make the presentation as perfect as possible; she was worried about not being good enough. Martin was busy preparing for an event and had time-critical tasks to get done. Angelica doesn’t know anything about this, however, because she hasn’t spoken to Martin. Martin worked towards the goals that were important to him, Angelika towards hers.


Destructive feedback


  1. Rank and role conflicts

These conflicts are very common. This is where the question comes into play: What significance, what influence do I have in the company? Perhaps there is a team leader who is younger and less experienced than you. Perhaps you would like to be the team leader yourself? Age and experience are a form of unofficial rank in a company. The official status, i.e. the place in the hierarchy, is the official form of rank. You’ve probably heard something like this before: “I’m not going to take orders from a brat like that” or “He has to do what I say. I’m the team leader here!”. This is where the unofficial and official ranks tend to clash.

Resolve conflict:

  • What position do you think you are entitled to?
  • What is the other person showing you?
  • What does that do to you?
Angelika has been with the company for more than a decade. Martin only briefly. Secretly, Angelika thinks Martin is a snob: he seems to believe that his work in marketing is much more important than the administrative tasks she usually takes care of. He never said it exactly like that, but Angelica read it between the lines. He seems to believe that the company depends on marketing: If no orders come in without it, then there is no money and then no one has work.
Angelika doesn’t feel taken seriously by Martin’s behavior and his self-confident comments. “Who does he think he is? I’ve already been here, there were other people running the place. – Well, then I’m not going to help him either. He needs me to help him all the time. Let’s see who has the upper hand then.”
Beware of smouldering conflicts: If the team gets in each other’s way, it throws a spanner in the works and that carries a high risk for the company!


LIMO method


  1. New constellations in the team – the team clock model

Newly formed teams are a real treasure trove for conflicts: sooner or later there are always conflicts!


Team watch Bruce Tuckman


Model of the team watch

There is also a psychological model for this: the team clock. This describes the group dynamic processes that take place in every group.
  1. Warming or forming
If you change your position in the organization or someone new joins the team or a completely new team is formed, then you initially treat each other very carefully, even politely. Everyone first tries to find out what makes others tick, what is important, how they themselves behave best. This warm-up phase is called warming.
  1. Storming
It’s like falling in love: After everyone has shown their best side in the getting-to-know-each-other phase, the time comes when conflicts arise and it gets down to business. This is where different expectations collide; the other person ticks differently, your own expectations are not met: Conflicts and arguments arise. These disputes are often very emotional. In the Storming team development phase, as the name suggests, things get stormy. There’s a rumbling in the stomach, people go ballistic over little things. This phase is normal and is not a sign that something is not working. Most of this will be clarified in the next phase. Because we all know the term “cleansing thunderstorm”.
  1. Norming
The group members have discovered that there are differences, different needs and wishes. The task now is to negotiate these. In the norming phase, we clarify how we want to work together. The basis for this is – you guessed it: the conversation!
  1. Performing
Once the group has found each other and agreed on how they want to work together, it’s time to perform.
These processes are completely normal and come into play to a greater or lesser extent whenever something changes in the team composition.

Resolve conflict: Negotiate what is important in the norming phase!

In the norming phase, the future course of action is automatically negotiated. Of course, it makes sense to go into conversations with others calmly and well prepared during this phase. Team members will also remember your ability to deal with conflict.


Angelika and Martin are in the storming phase, although Martin has no idea how lucky he is. To get to the norming phase, Angelika needs to address what is bothering her so that they can jointly determine a modus operandi: What is the best way for Angelika to reach Martin, how does she convey to him whether the issue in question is urgent at the moment and how quickly it needs to be dealt with. How and within what period of time should Martin react so that Angelika does not have any problems? And what about cancelations?


Resolve conflicts


Resolving conflicts – how does that work? Conflict resolution in 5 steps

We have defined this above: A conflict is the collision of desires, goals, values and/or needs. The emotional aspect distinguishes a conflict from a factual problem. In this respect, conflict resolution is not just about solving the problem, but especially about recognizing emotions and manners and looking for constructive ways to improve the situation. How can this work?
  1. Check your own expectations!

You only have a conflict when you get angry. And this is exactly where you can start. Before you get angry and a conflict arises, ask yourself what expectations you have that have been disappointed and whether the people involved in the conflict are even aware of these expectations.
  • Have you discussed your expectations?
  • Are they really justified? Isn’t the perfection that you yourself display perhaps a little exaggerated?
  • Can you perhaps lower your level of perfection a little?
  • Does everyone have to do it exactly the way you want?
  • What about the others? Are they able and willing to meet your expectations?
If you can put your own expectations into perspective and perhaps realize that they are a little high, then you have a chance that your belly rumbling will dissipate. You might come to the conclusion that you were a bit suspicious, that it’s about your personal preference, that it’s not the other person’s fault and so on. Then maybe you can just let go of your anger towards the other person and be at peace with yourself.




  1. Give feedback! Talk about it!

Have you checked your expectations and your tummy rumbling won’t go away? – Then you should talk about what’s bothering you! This is the only way you have a chance of the situation developing further. If you do nothing, the rumbling in your stomach will turn into a lump that won’t go away on its own. And it is very likely that the situation will get worse. You probably know the Einstein quote that says it’s madness to carry on as before and still hope that everything will change. If you don’t change your own contribution to the situation, the situation won’t change.
Unfortunately, many people are afraid to address conflicts openly, even though their gut is rumbling: “I don’t want to open a can of worms”. The problem: the next time the situation goes in the same direction, the emotions come up all the stronger. This is dangerous, because situations can escalate much more quickly under high emotional pressure. Do you want to continue working together and preferably have a good relationship? Do you want to solve the underlying problem and future problems constructively? – Then unfortunately there is no way around it.

How to give feedback?

Of course, it is not easy to address points of conflict, especially when the situation may already be tense. We have written a very detailed article on the subject of feedback. There you will find out when and where it is best to have a feedback conversation, how to set it up, what you should not do under any circumstances and what should definitely be said.

Give video feedback

How do you give feedback in an agile environment?

Giving the right feedback is not easy for most people. In the VUCA world in particular, however, it is vital to create a constructive feedback culture in which feedback is perceived as helpful and appreciative. Susanne explains what is important here.


  1. Take a look at all the perspectives!

We all know that People have different views of the world; there is no one true view. It is important to be able to understand different perspectives!


Inner map of conflict management


The inner map

The inner map represents an image of the world, not the world itself. On a map or in a navigation device, for example, the highway is red and the country road is yellow; but in normal life, roads are rarely red or yellow. And there are also maps on which the highway is blue and the country road is green.
And so every person has their own map stored within them. This consists of images, emotions, ideas, priorities and experiences. Some have had positive experiences with the same thing, others negative. The evaluation of a situation resulting from past experiences is of course also noted on the inner map. Now it is time to compare these inner maps.

There is no one truth!

In all the mediations we have conducted, we have experienced that there is no one true truth! One of the parties to the conflict was never the good one and the other the bad one. People have always acted on the basis of their truth or their map. And from their point of view, it was always very plausible. In their closed mindset, people think what they do is completely okay, but not what the other person does. Understanding this and exploring the other point of view helps enormously in resolving a conflict and coming to terms with it together.

Angelika’s map

Angelika thinks about it: She generally doesn’t have a particularly good impression of people from marketing. She has seen many a snob come and go. And every one of them made a big deal of it. She doesn’t know Martin that well herself: he’s relatively new and she often works from home. She met him a few times in the office, but he always seemed pretty busy. Once she said hello to him and he didn’t say hello back. She is not sure whether he might have had headphones in his ear and was talking on the phone.
He is younger than her and looks like a typical hipster. She thinks that’s silly.
She suspects that he is not very reliable. Part of her map is that she knows what can happen when things go wrong: The company has already missed out on some really big fish because previous colleagues didn’t react in time.

Martin’s map

Martin, on the other hand, is relatively new to the company. He has not yet been able to build up a personal relationship with everyone because many are working from home. He also has a lot to do with people outside the company. Precisely because he is new, he wants to do everything right and prove that he has what it takes with the event currently being planned. He has a lot on his plate and two children at home, one of whom is chronically ill. He didn’t think Angelika’s request was urgent or important. After all, it wasn’t about customers.


Parties to the conflict


  1. See your own share!

To come back to our experiences in mediation: Conflicts have often arisen because one side perceived something negatively that the other had not meant negatively at all. However, both were of the opinion: “How can it be that the other treats me so badly?”
Both are convinced that the first negative action was carried out by the other and that the other is therefore to blame. We know this from children: “But the other one started it!”.

An example

Martin is new to the company and offers to support others with his expertise in a zoom session. Initially there are no inquiries. He is entrusted with a major event and throws himself into the work. Angelika sends a message that goes unanswered because Martin reads it in passing during a location visit and it is formulated in a relatively non-committal way. He doesn’t realize the urgency at all. At their next brief encounter, Angelika makes a snippy remark. Martin finds Angelica strange; he hardly knows her and she treats him like this; what’s the point? This is how the conflict builds up and everyone thinks the other person is the one who started the unjustifiably bad behavior.
Ask yourself:
  • What was the first action that I perceived as critical?
  • Did I perhaps do anything beforehand that could have been perceived critically by the other person?
  • Was there something that I may have misinterpreted and that was perhaps not meant that way at all?


Employee interview


  1. Empathy: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes!

It is extremely difficult to implement this point! – If you are hurt and feel that the other person has taken advantage of you at your expense, how can you stay calm? This is often difficult to reconcile with your own self-worth, after all, you have the feeling that the other person is treating you disrespectfully. And this is exactly the moment when you should put yourself in the other person’s shoes as quickly as possible:
  • What’s going on with the other one?
  • Why could he:she have behaved like this?
  • What could be the cause?
Yes! That is difficult. It takes true greatness to do that. But you only have a chance of finding a compromise that works for all sides if you try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand them. And you have the opportunity to shape the further cooperation in a way that is good for everyone.
The more empathetic you are, the greater the chance of avoiding or resolving conflicts.
For Angelika that means:
  • What does the world look like from Martin’s perspective?
  • Is Martin perhaps under stress?
  • Maybe Martin is busy and has other priorities, so I’ll have to wait until later?
  • What could be the reason?


How to deal with conflicts in an agile environment

A productive corporate culture also includes dealing constructively with conflicts. In the VUCA world in particular, it is important to recognize them quickly and address them swiftly in order to remain competitive in the market. Can methods be adopted from other environments? What is the iceberg model all about? Oliver talks about differences, but also similarities that are context-independent in the video.



Resolve conflicts? Answers to all questions

We are regularly asked all sorts of questions about conflicts. The interest in it is huge. No wonder: after all, we all have to deal with conflicts throughout our lives. That’s why we’re seizing the opportunity to answer every question about conflicts. If you can think of any more questions: great! – Write to us and we will answer them for you!


1. conflict management – what is it?

Definition of conflict management

Conflict management means having strategies and skills at hand to resolve disputes and emotional differences between people sustainably and constructively. These techniques come from mediation, non-violent communication and coaching.

Objectives of conflict management

The aims of conflict management are to stimulate empathy and understanding between the parties involved in the conflict, to resolve the conflict and to ensure that communication and trust between the parties improve in the long term so that future points of contention can be easily resolved through discussion.


2 What is a good conflict resolution?

Good conflict resolution is a solution that all parties to the conflict can live with, that creates mutual understanding and thus ensures that future conflicts are dealt with constructively or do not arise in the first place.

3. how do you behave in conflicts with colleagues? What to do in the event of conflicts in the workplace?

Many people think that it is better to avoid conflicts with colleagues. But that is not the case! It makes no difference whether they are friends, colleagues or partners. Just as private conflicts put a strain on us and make us sleep less well, conflicts at work also weigh on our minds: we are depressed, have less fun and are often less productive. So if you have a conflict, you should definitely say directly that the issue is causing you difficulties. This is the only way you have a chance of getting the difficulties out of the way.


Psychological consequences


4. what are the 4 types of conflict?

We are often asked: What are the four forms of conflict? We have already explained it above: there are conflicts of objectives, conflicts of values, conflicts of roles, conflicts of judgment and so on. However, we identify more than just four types of conflict.
We therefore assume that this question is aimed at the four different forms of conflict communication. We will discuss this shortly:

Conflict communication model according to Virginia Satir

The American psychotherapist and family therapist Virginia Satir defined four communication models or roles that can be found in every system. Taking on one of the four roles in a conflict tends to have a negative effect on the course of the conversation and does not lead to any solutions. Nevertheless, it happens to all of us time and again that we find ourselves in one of these roles or behaviors.
  1. Appease (placate)

    The person wants to be liked. She accepts, agrees, makes herself small and goes beyond her own needs.
  2. Accusations (blame)

    The person wants to appear strong, accuses, does not accept apologies, only stands up for themselves, is loud, aggressive, demanding, bossy.
  3. Rationalize (computer)

    The person wants to appear clever, uses foreign words, is stiff, unemotional, factual.
  4. Distract (distract)

    The person wants to distract from the conflict, is agitated, often cheerful, hyperactive, often speaks without meaning or reference to the topic.


Conflict resolution in a team


5 What types of conflict resolution are there?

Conflict resolution only works through communication! In plain language: You can’t avoid a conversation. In this respect, there is only one way to resolve conflicts – talk to each other!
For technical problems, there are various decision matrices that can be used to find a solution; there are different types of problem solving.
However, we are talking here about conflicts that are characterized by a high degree of emotionality.


6. principles for conflict resolution

It takes a lot to resolve a conflict,
  • an exchange about what is emotionally preoccupying each of the participants in the conflict
  • that each party to the conflict feels seen and heard
  • that every person in conflict feels that their needs are being met.

Conflict resolution: experience report from mediation

In a mediation process, we first ask whether everyone has an interest in resolving the conflict. We then show that everyone should describe their own point of view according to certain rules of discussion. This gives everyone the chance to publish their inner map. We take the rules of conversation from Marshall B. Rosenberg’s non-violent communication. It is fundamentally important for the success of a conflict discussion that everyone expresses themselves in a way that does not make the other person feel attacked and does not lead to escalation.




7 What is the most important thing in a conflict resolution meeting?

  • Spend most of your time trying to understand each other first!
  • Talk about yourself, not the other person!
  • Describe your concrete perception!
  • Don’t interpret the other person’s behavior!
  • Do not judge each other’s behavior, values or needs!
  • Talk about the effects of the situation on yourself!
  • Refrain from justifications!
  • Summarize what you have understood!
  • After that: How do we solve this?


8 What is difficult in conflict resolution?

There are two levels: the factual and the emotional. Probably the most difficult thing in such a conversation is not to mix the two levels. There are objective observations, for example: “On July 2, you wrote xy.” “You didn’t reply” etc. The emotional level is what you feel: “If someone doesn’t reply to me at all, I get annoyed.”


9. how exactly do I conduct a conversation to resolve conflicts?

You can find details on conflict resolution discussions in our article on feedback.
There we describe exactly what is important.

WWW method

To give you a small rule of thumb, we recommend the WWW method:
  1. W – Perception – what specifically did you perceive?
  2. W – Effect – What impact does this have?
  3. W – Wish – Which behavior do you wish for?
We add a fourth W and place it right at the beginning:
A. Appreciation! – Start with something positive!
This way, your conversation partner will feel valued and not rejected and will be able to meet you more openly.


Dealing with errors


10. what to do if someone starts a fight?

Someone comes up to you indignantly and lets you clearly feel their anger? Your counterpart has obviously never heard of non-violent communication? You feel attacked and realize that aggression will soon be triggered in you. How can you resolve the aggressive mood and turn the argument into a constructive conflict discussion? Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s definitely worth a try. This is where LIMO technology helps:

LIMO method

Here is the LIMO method
L = Praise in relation to what has been said: e.g. “I think it’s good that you’re addressing me directly”.
I = Interest in the topic addressed: e.g. “Please explain the problem to me”.
M = Address deficiency: “Yes, of course that has such and such consequences”.
O = Signal openness: “How did you imagine it?” or “Let’s talk about it. When do you have time?”.
There are situations in which the emotions of your conflict partner or your own feelings are already so inflamed that it is difficult to give in. That’s all right.
What to do?
Go apart! Everyone should take the time to cool their heels first. Only when both have found their way back to the factual level can things become really constructive.


11 When is a conflict resolved?

The problem could have been solved on a factual level a long time ago. For example, the boss has made a decision or the two parties to the conflict have negotiated a compromise. On an emotional level, however, nothing has happened: the parties to the conflict are still suspicious or even hostile towards each other. The conflict has definitely not been resolved here.
Do you feel disadvantaged or bullied? If yes – then get it out! This must be discussed, otherwise the conflict will smoulder and erupt again and again when there is a new occasion.
The conflict is only sustainably resolved when all parties have nothing left to ferment on an emotional level. Ideally, the parties involved will even emerge from the conflict with increased trust because they know that they can also discuss critical issues with each other.




12 What if a conflict cannot be resolved?

Clearly: go to mediation! Sometimes a conflict has either been deadlocked for a very long time or the conflict parties are very emotional; sometimes the parties involved are unable to refrain from using destructive language. If you can’t resolve a conflict on your own, get help! The impartial, objective person from outside ensures that the rules of non-violent communication are adhered to and that the conversation remains constructive.


13. can every conflict be resolved?

No, unfortunately you can’t. There are emotional conflicts that have arisen from a factual problem. The factual problem can then be solved, but this does not mean that the emotional problem – i.e. the conflict – is automatically solved. Sometimes, despite a compromise or solution on a factual level, resentment remains.
  • Sometimes people simply don’t like each other. Then nothing helps. The best solution is to put these people apart in the company.
  • And sometimes certain people repeatedly press someone else’s trigger. For example, if someone has often been treated unfairly by their father, similar behavior triggers resentment, anger and rage. Such automatisms/patterns cannot be resolved without professional help (therapy). You can discuss how to deal with such issues better in the future, but this does not make the trigger disappear.
  • There are conflicts that can be resolved on an emotional level but are anchored in the system. For example, a conflict between scheduling and sales. The scheduling department ensures order and compliance with the rules, while the sales department has to sell while remaining customer-oriented and flexible. Nothing can be done about this at a systemic level. Each department has different goals and interests. You should talk about this and emphasize that this is nothing personal; you have to represent different points of view. This has nothing to do with not liking each other, not respecting each other, not taking each other seriously or even finding each other stupid. Here it is important to make it clear: “We value each other, but we are heading in different directions.” Such a conflict can be resolved on an emotional level, but not on a factual one.
Conflicts in the team


14 Why is it important to resolve conflicts?

It is extremely important to resolve conflicts, because collaboration and performance are severely impacted by conflicts. A conflict can be the sand in the gears of a company that makes it significantly less efficient: Because colleague A has a conflict with colleague B, he finds workarounds. He avoids contact with B wherever possible. The two play e-mail ping pong and find themselves in guilt loops: Whenever they can blame the other, he gets it. This costs time and energy, not only for the two of them, but also for everyone else around them. Good solutions are guaranteed not to be created in this way. This requires collaboration; ideally, a team is even in flow with each other.


15 What happens if conflicts are not resolved?

Conflicts are close to us humans. A dispute at work does not simply pass us by without leaving a trace. This can be enormously nerve-wracking and – if not resolved – can manifest itself psychosomatically. Yes, smouldering conflicts are definitely a health risk.
Therefore: If you have a conflict and are thinking about resolving it, ask yourself:
  • What happens if I don’t resolve this conflict? What will be left behind?

Why should you ask yourself these questions?

Damage to health and inefficient cooperation are extreme consequences. But unresolved conflicts could have no consequences at all: Imagine you are in a hotel and the porter charges you ten euros too much for parking. You’re really annoyed, but you’re already in the car and the family is waiting at home. You think it’s cheeky, but you’re not in the mood for all the nagging. You think “Fuck it!”, say nothing and the matter is settled for you.

When do I not need to resolve the conflict?

The important thing is that you can look in the mirror later and say: “That’s okay!”. If you can just let it go – wonderful: then let it go!

When should I resolve a conflict?

If a conflict gives you the feeling that you haven’t stood up for yourself, it can really eat away at your self-esteem. So if you feel angry or sad about the conflict, you should definitely address it. This is the only way you have a chance of getting rid of the conflict. Anything else would be unhealthy and detrimental to your well-being.
Conflict in the company


16 How do people behave in conflicts?

As different as people are, as different is their behavior in conflict situations. Conflicts are often emotionally charged: people feel hurt, ignored, disrespected, ripped off. Usually anger, rage, sadness and so on are involved. And everyone deals with it differently:

Emotional people versus objective people

More emotional people let the issues get to them, sometimes get angry and show it. More objective natures remain calm and therefore sometimes have easier access to the meta-level. However, they are sometimes unable to understand why the other person is reacting so violently or have difficulties identifying and expressing their emotions themselves.

Different emotional processing times

There are also half-hour people and three-day people: A half-hour person briefly expresses what makes them unhappy and then it’s good again. He wants to get along and everything is solved. Such a person is surprised that it is still smoldering in the other person. A three-day person needs a little more time to process an emotional issue. It doesn’t help to tug at it. If a half-hour person wants to resolve a conflict over and over again, they may open a wound that the three-day person needs to heal before they can become constructive. This tends to make things worse. TheThree-Day-Person becomes increasingly emotional and continues to stir the conflict. That’s not how the two get together.




17 What conflict resolution options are there?

Different ways of approaching conflicts are called winning strategies. There are three of them:
  1. Win-win strategy

    You are looking for viable paths for everyone involved. This attitude is the best way to go to the meta-level and negotiate constructively.
  2. Win-lose strategy

    You want the profit for yourself alone, seeking only your own advantage.
    In a conflict, you hit out: “Someone is treating me badly!”. You feel like a victim and want to free yourself. Thoughts of revenge are also part of it. If you hit it once, you usually get it back. In business, that’s not really a smart strategy.
  3. Loose-lose strategy

    There are no winners here. If all you do is lash out and break things that are actually important to you, then everyone loses. It may be that in an outraged, emotional state you permanently damage or destroy things, connections, values. You’ll probably be sorry afterwards. However, it is often not possible to make up for this. Examples of this are hurtful words below the belt or expensive divorce battles (although the lawyers still make a tidy profit) – when a house is foreclosed on because there is no agreement. This is not a wise strategy for a long-term career.


Conflict causes


18 How can conflict skills be trained? 10 tips

Good news: Yes, you can train your ability to deal with conflict.
  1. Attend conflict seminars and coaching sessions!
  2. Consciously practice conflicts in your mind!
  3. Tackle conflicts!
  4. Start with minor conflicts!
  5. Think about conflicts!
  6. In conflict situations, think about what the conflict might look like from the other person’s world!
  7. Engage in non-violent communication!
  8. Practice non-violent communication and giving feedback!
  9. Practice not always reacting straight away, but sleeping on it first!
  10. Find a sparring partner who mirrors you!

Skills versus knowledge

The more you deal with the topic and have it at your fingertips even in emotionally difficult situations, the less likely you are to be immediately rattled by a conflict. This gives you the opportunity to think things over and try to empathize with the other person’s world.
Caution: Just having read something about it does not help you to react prudently at the crucial moment. Just as you practise swimming in a shallow pool before you can keep your head above water in higher waves, the same applies to conflicts.


Constructive mindset


19 What is a good mindset for resolving conflicts?

A good basis for conflict resolution is a good sense of self-worth: I’m okay, you’re okay. Your own wishes, goals and values are perfectly fine, as are those of the other person. This attitude is the best way to deal with a conflict. You can take yourself seriously and don’t have to let things slide. If you feel that you have been treated unfairly in any way, think about it in private. Take things apart, reflect, be empathetic with the other person. And then use the feedback rules (see feedback article) to go through possible courses of a conflict resolution discussion. Also make sure that you choose the right time and place. More on this in the feedback article.


20 When are conflicts negative?

Where there are people, there are always conflicts. In every area. And that is quite normal. This includes resolving and discussing conflicts, but also leaving conflicts that are not important to you. This is not initially positive or negative.
However, it becomes negative if you let conflicts fester, if you don’t address them. The motto here is: Make the conflict visible and talk about it!
Most conflicts have been latent and invisible for a long time. If you tackle this, it can be like a cleansing thunderstorm.
It can become destructive if you sit out conflicts, if you push around, if cooperation comes to a standstill. That is very negative indeed.


21 Can conflicts also be positive?

Yes, conflicts can also be positive! Conflicts reveal different goals, values and needs. It is always good to keep an eye on such conflicting needs. The debate is important so that both perspectives are addressed. By rubbing up against each other, exchanging ideas, trying to understand each other, you can ultimately find a solution that does justice to both. And that is positive.
After a tense phase, it’s good to talk about what’s actually going on. It is better to get into a clinch with each other and make a difference so that you can create something new than to remain stuck in the old and grumble all the time. You probably know this: If you had a conflict and were able to resolve it, the trust between all parties is usually much greater afterwards than if there had never been a conflict. This applies in relationships, in all types of partnerships, in collegial and business dealings between customers, suppliers and colleagues. Conflicts also show you how people deal with each other and with you in difficult situations. And that can also strengthen trust.


Problem solution


22 What consequences can conflicts have?

Unspoken, unresolved conflicts in working life have consequences:

  • Less communication
  • Not with each other, but against each other
  • Information flows worse
  • People avoid each other
  • There are workarounds
  • Disturbed processes
  • Less efficiency
  • Work is less fun
  • Lack of motivation
  • Stress
  • Health problems
  • More sick notes
  • Terminations
  • Conflicts can spread to customers

Consequences of unresolved conflicts in the partnership:

  • You are less emotionally connected
  • People tend to act against each other
  • Feels misunderstood and alone
  • Has the impression that the partner is to blame
  • The feeling of love cools down

Resolved conflicts also have consequences:

  • It can get unpleasant, uncomfortable and loud at short notice
  • After that it becomes quieter, more peaceful
  • The feeling arises: “We can resolve conflicts, we can talk about sensitive issues”
  • Teamwork: We can look for solutions together
  • Strengthens every form of relationship
  • Customer loyalty after conflict resolution is significantly lower than without conflict


Dysfunctional team


23 What feelings trigger conflicts?

All people have had conflicts in the course of their lives and of course also in their childhood. Feelings from old conflicts often resurface. These can be, for example:
  • The fear of being abandoned
  • The fear of no longer being liked
  • The fear of being alone, of standing alone
  • The feeling of dependency
  • Pressure and stress
  • The feeling of being treated unfairly, of being a victim
  • The feeling of having to defend yourself and your territory
  • The impression of having to save someone else
We have already described this above: When a conflict seems to catapult us back into this childish emotional world, we have difficulty finding our way out again.
Our article on the drama triangle is interesting in this context.


Team constellation


24 How can conflicts be de-escalated?

LEAF method according to Jeremy Pollock

To give you some first aid with a solution: If the situation is acute and you can’t prepare a conversation to resolve the conflict, think about the LEAF method.
As a mnemonic: Leaf is the English term for leaf. Perhaps you can think for a moment that you would like to sprout a new leaf in your relationship with your partner.
LEAF is an acronym from the English
  • L Listen: First listen to what the other person has to say.
  • E Empathize: Try to put yourself in his or her shoes. Why is your conversation partner so upset? Where does the shoe pinch?
  • A Apologize: Did you mean to harm the other person? No? Great. Then apologize for your part.
  • F Fix: Look for a solution together!
Anthropologist and conflict resolution consultant Jeremy Pollock developed this method in order to be able to react quickly to conflicts and disputes in everyday business life.


25 How can escalation be avoided in the long term?

Sometimes there are conflicts that are just minor things. If you’re sure that the conflict will be over tomorrow and you won’t be left with a funny feeling – then forget it!
That can be totally okay.
But: It is important that you don’t push anything away! If anything remains, no matter how small, then address it. Sometimes it is enough to address a conflict issue briefly and lightly: “Hey, I was annoyed. I know you can’t change it, but I had to get it off my chest and then it’s okay. The situation was unpleasant, it didn’t feel good for me.”
For more intensive, in-depth conflict issues, it is necessary to conduct a conflict resolution meeting. We have summarized below how you can prepare and conduct a conversation to resolve the conflict constructively.




26 How do you start a conflict discussion?

  • The most important thing: You need time and peace for such a conversation and so does your conversation partner. Find a safe space where you can be undisturbed. Make sure that you both have time and that one of you doesn’t have to run off to another appointment in the middle of the conversation.
  • Go into the conversation prepared: be clear about your situation and your interests and needs, and try to imagine how your conversation partner might feel beforehand.
  • Internalize the feedback rules!
  • Make sure you can stay calm! This is the only way to view the conflict from a meta-level.
  • Always keep in mind that there are always two perspectives. Both have their own views. Both are a bit right. It’s about how the two can come together.
  • Make sure you listen a lot; try to understand!


27 What is critical for constructive conflict resolution?

If one of you thinks that the other is not okay the way he is, then you cannot resolve the conflict! The attitude towards the other person must be: “It’s okay that you are like this, that you have these feelings and desires. And at the same time, it’s also okay that I have a different perspective and a different way of thinking than you.”


Conflicts in the team


28 What should you avoid in a conflict discussion? 21 Mistakes in the conflict discussion…

There are a number of things you should avoid doing in a conflict conversation if you want to resolve the conflict.
If you just want to let off steam, show where the hammer hangs and that you can’t be bothered to do anything like that, but you’re not interested in resolving the conflict, then you can basically do whatever you want. You might even feel really good after an outburst. Just realize beforehand that you’ll end up with a pile of broken pieces that you won’t be able to stick together. You will probably have offended others to such an extent that they are just waiting to smack you or want nothing more to do with you.

Guaranteed not to resolve a conflict: 21 conflict intensifiers

  1. You address your conflict partner in front of third parties
  2. You just blurt out what annoys you about the other person between door and door
  3. You are not interested in whether your conflict partner has the time and leisure for such a conversation
  4. You don’t leave anything good about the other person: You don’t mention the things that are positive/going well in your relationship or your working relationship
  5. You don’t ask if something is not clear to you
  6. You bombard the other person with you messages: “You are so and so”
  7. You interpret: “You’re not at all interested in what’s going on with me!”
  8. You generalize: “You never have time”
  9. You insist on knowing what is right
  10. You get loud, possibly shouting
  11. You devalue the other person
  12. You try to present yourself better
  13. You’re right and nobody else is
  14. You try to take revenge and hurt the other person
  15. You don’t address things at all and simply ignore them
  16. You only stay on the factual level and leave no room for how you and the others are feeling
  17. You don’t listen to the other person, you just want to get rid of your own things
  18. Your body language or vocal expression is aggressive or derogatory
  19. You justify your behavior
  20. You are constantly interrupting the other person
  21. You talk against what the other person tells you
Here is a more in-depth article The drama triangle: How to escalate a conflict


Escalation dispute


28 How do I behave in a conflict discussion? 17 steps to conflict resolution

So now we have looked at the topic of conflict from all perspectives and answered all the questions. Well, maybe not all of them… Now you can get started: Now you can resolve a conflict. At the end of our article, we provide you with a short list of what you should look out for if you want to resolve a conflict:
  1. Make an appointment for a one-on-one meeting!
  2. Observe the feedback rules! (Read our feedback article!)
  3. Take your time to prepare for the conversation: in terms of content, process, mentally and emotionally!
  4. Name positive things (“I like working with you”, “You have often supported me”)
  5. Stay calm!
  6. Talk about yourself: What causes you difficulties? What can’t you cope with? (No “you-messages”)
  7. Describe concrete behavior! Only describe your objective perception. Do not interpret!
  8. Tell us how you feel!
  9. Give concrete examples!
  10. Avoid provocative words and do not generalize! (“You always do x”, “You never listen to me”)
  11. Ask if something is not clear to you!
  12. Summarize occasionally what you have understood!
  13. Try to really understand the other person!
  14. Say what is important to you and what you need!
  15. Suggest solutions that could also be suitable for your counterpart!
  16. Listen to the solutions proposed by your counterpart!
  17. Show appreciation for the fact that your conversation partner is listening to you and looking for constructive solutions with you!


Loose Lose Strategy


29 What happens if a conflict conversation goes wrong?

That depends: Do you otherwise have a good trusting relationship? Have the two of you or one of you lost your horses once? – Then say that you are angry at the moment and are unable to have the conversation constructively. Ask to have the conversation again calmly and positively at another time. Prepare yourself well for this.
Sometimes the conflict cannot be resolved alone. Then seek mediation. Where can you find one? – With us, for example. Also online.


30 Mediation for conflict resolution: What happens in mediation?

If we are allowed to mediate a conflict, we proceed as follows:
  1. We talk briefly about the rules of non-violent communication.
  2. Each party to the conflict describes – non-violently – their situation and point of view.
  3. Both summarize what they have understood of the other’s situation, without judgment or their own input.
    At this point, people often breathe a sigh of relief. Because the conflict is on the table, everyone has been heard. Conflicts often arise because people feel misunderstood or not seen. The moment the other person summarizes what has been said in their own words, it means: “I see you”. This is the first step towards each other.
  4. At best, this is the basis for understanding each other emotionally and empathizing with the other person’s situation. Once the two have come closer in this step, the next step is possible:
  5. How do we resolve this conflict? On a factual and emotional level.




Read more about resolving conflicts

Interesting authors in connection with conflict resolution are:

Our articles on conflict resolution and related topics

Conflicts & feedback

  1. Giving feedback: the 10 rules for constructive feedback
  2. 35 Conflict resolution strategies – How to get out when a conflict escalates
  3. Conflicts in the team: What to do when the air gets thick? 31 Tips
  4. The conflict spiral: How to resolve conflicts quickly

Values & value management

  1. The Graves value system: what is really important to people
  2. The Spiral Dynamics value model: What really matters to people 2/2
  3. Why value management makes your company successful
  4. Changing values: definition & guide to cultural change in your company

Our videos on conflict resolution and related topics

  1. Conflict management: How do I resolve conflicts?
  2. How do I deal with conflicts in an agile environment?
  3. How do you give feedback in an agile environment?
  4. Changing values: shaping a successful corporate culture

Our podcast episodes on conflict resolution and related topics

The authors

Oliver Grätsch
Michelle 550
Michelle Templin
Christian Grätsch
Matthias Beikert
Susanne Grätsch
Monika Bt 550x550
Monika Steininger
Kai Hübner
Philipp Andresen 500x550
Philipp Andresen
Anna Isabell Arendt
Dr. Claudia Schmidt
Inga Kühn
Kassandra Knebel
Claudia Lehmann
Komplettes Team

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