Conflicts happen in interpersonal relationships as well as in workplace relationships; this is a normal part of life and should not necessarily be avoided. In order to deal with them effectively, however, one must develop conflict resolution skills, the most important of which is the ability to listen well. One must not only be able to listen well, but also listen actively; this means taking notes, asking clarifying questions, and summarizing to make sure an understanding has been reached. Active listening is first and foremost on the list of conflict resolution skills one must possess in order to diffuse conflicts and come to constructive conclusions.
It is easy to lose one's temper during an argument or conflict, but another one of the most important conflict resolution skills is the ability to remain calm. This will help diffuse any hostility between people having the conflict, and it will also help everyone to better understand the root causes of the conflict. It is too easy to let issues pile up and to stockpile arguments for the big conflict; one should avoid doing this, as it often takes the conflict to a personal level that can be hurtful to one or more parties involved.
Conflict resolution skills will help one better understand each side of the argument. It is important to recognize differing opinions and recognize them as valid concerns. This ensures that all parties involved feel validated and respected. From there, one must learn to discuss possible positive outcomes and promote compromise; no conflict can be fully resolved without each side of the argument making concessions, so it is important to lead each side down the path toward understanding by making them recognize concessions must be made.
Often, recognizing the root cause of a conflict is more important than solving the apparent problem. Conflict resolution skills include the ability to recognize when an argument stems from a deeper issue, as it so often does. Asking clarifying questions can help one find the root cause; simple questions such as "When did this all start?" and "Was your anger caused by something else?" can help everyone involved better understand how to come to a reasonable solution to the issues.
Sometimes the most useful of the conflict resolution skills is the most difficult to put into practice: letting go of the idea of punishment. When one feels wronged, he or she naturally feels as though the wrongdoer should be punished. In many situations, a conflict can be resolved more quickly and easily if all parties are willing to forget about punishment and work toward a constructive outcome. This is a difficult concept for many people, especially people who are angry and frustrated. When dealing with a conflict, developing an ability to forgive and forget will go a long way toward peaceful resolution.