A Conflict Resolution Approach: Focusing on Individual and Shared Needs

Conflict is a normal part of any team process. It occurs when people disagree over their perceptions, ideas, motivations, values and more. Conflict should not always be avoided. It is something that should be faced for the team to get through the challenge and grow. When conflict is not handled well, it may cause great harm to the organization, but when managed positively and respectfully, it could strengthen the bond among team members leading to team and organizational growth.

Building Positive Energy and Goodwill

Whenever a conflict happens, many negative emotions come along. It comes without a doubt that conflict makes people upset and anxious resulting in more intense feelings such as anger and disappointment. Despite the heavy feelings we experience in disagreement, there are ways to turn the negative energy into a positive one. When a team member builds goodwill with the person he or she is in conflict with, resolving the situation will be much easier. Yet, to do this, it entails a lot of effort.

When confronting an adversary, there are two options that one may commonly take; one is to match your opponent’s demeanor – match fire with fire; two is to be a positive influence.  Both take almost the same amount of energy, but which will yield greater results? Others may think about why they should bother. They may think about whether the conflict is worth resolving with the amount of energy and time they will consume in resolving one. However, conflicts continue to fester when it is ignored, leading to greater conflicts in the future. Thus, it is best to address the issue at once.

Here are some ways of turning negative energy into a positive one:

Have a Good Attitude

Conflict triggers strong emotions that can hurt feelings and cause disappointment and resentment. If you are out of control of your feelings or you are feeling very stressed about the situation, it will be a challenge to communicate and establish with your adversary what’s upsetting or affecting you.  By staying calm, you can easily be in control of your emotions leading to you being able to communicate your viewpoint without sounding threatening or intimidating; hence, your counterpart can become receptive to your ideas. By avoiding disrespectful words or behavior, both parties can resolve the conflict much more quickly. Your ability to be in control of your emotions will help you react in constructive ways, even though your adversary is attacking you.

Frame Things Positively

Try understanding the other person’s viewpoint. Pay attention to both the spoken and non-spoken language so that you can come up with common understanding. Make resolving the conflict your priority rather than winning the argument. Pay attention to what you can do in the ‘here-and-now’ and continue to find ways of how to come up with solutions. Maintain a belief that facing conflict head on is the best thing for both sides.

Create Actionable Items

Once both parties have already heard each other’s viewpoints, it is important to create actionable steps of resolving the conflict. Consider the needs and ideas of both parties. Make sure that there is agreement on the resolution steps. Commit to resolve the situation together, and be willing to forgive. Conflict resolution is impossible if both parties are not willing to reconcile and work together.

Try to Keep Emotions Out of Your Statements

State your feelings and opinions in an objective manner as possible. Label your thoughts as thoughts by starting sentences with, “I think…” rather than “I feel…” This will help you stay away from sharing your subjective views about the matter, making both sides see workable points towards resolving the conflict.

Take a Break When You Need It

Sometimes, both parties may not agree no matter how long the discussion takes. It could be caused by heightened emotions and stress at the moment. When all parties involved in the conflict seem to circle and no one is willing to listen, it would be best to take a break for a while until everyone is calm and ready to listen to everyone’s viewpoints. Nothing could be more powerful than having open ears and an open mind.

Have an ‘I see where you’re coming from’ Mindset

When you listen and are receptive to your counterpart, you connect more deeply to not only the other person’s needs and emotions, but also yours. Listening also makes it easier for other people to hear you when it is your turn to share your side of the story. Conversely, when you tell your counterpart the story, outline the consequences, and explain how you feel objectively.

Transition from Problem-solving to Team Building

Making the transition from opponents to problem-solving teammates is one of the most powerful conflict resolution tools. It helps everyone build a common ground to help bridge the gap between conflicting parties. Using this approach makes conflict a team collaboration process; hence, building trust among team members. When conflict is viewed positively and addressed properly, it leads to team and organizational growth.



Collier, C. A. (2015). The Science and Art of Conflict Resolution: 10 Quick Strategies for Success.

Atlanta, Georgia: Personality Matters.


Dr. Cherry

Cherry A. Collier, Ph.D. is an Organizational Psychologist, Strategist, Executive Coach, and Diversity, Inclusion, & Belonging Consultant for Personality Matters, Inc. Her science-based approach and brain-based techniques, propel people, teams, and organizations to build bridges and work from the inside out to achieve their goals. Dr. Cherry specializes in emotional intelligence, neuroscience, leadership development, and DEI Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She received her Doctorate and Master of Science in Applied Social/Organizational Psychology from the University of Georgia and Graduated Magna Cum Laude from Spelman College. She is the author of more than twenty-five Human Behavior related books for leaders, executives, and coaches. Dr. Cherry is often called the DEI Whisperer because she has a unique ability to fiercely “hold the space” and be totally present which creates a psychologically safe environment that allows others all the space they need to fully express themselves. She listens to others with head, heart and hands approach so that they are heard, seen and understood.