Guide: Conflict management

What conflicts are and why they arise – and about dealing with conflicts early in the process and preventing them from escalating to such an extent that the parties cannot resolve them themselves.

Dialogue and understanding

The sector guide Conflict management provides you with a number of tools you can use when you observe or are part of a conflict yourself.

You will first of all receive guidance on how to enter into a dialogue - because dialogue is the only viable way out of a conflict. You will see that both parties to the conflict must speak, learn to listen and be made to understand each other.

What is a conflict?

A conflict is a disagreement in which one or more of the persons becomes emotionally involved.

Two people are in conflict with each other, even if only one of them experiences the conflict.

So if your colleague or a customer is angry or irritated with you because of something you have said or done, then you are in conflict - regardless of how you experience the situation.

What separates a conflict from a disagreement is that at least one person becomes emotionally involved.

In a disagreement, you can accept each other's different positions and discuss the matter back and forth. The conflict only arises when you take what the other person says or does personally and react by getting angry, irritated, upset, etc.

The conflict ladder

The conflict ladder is used to understand why and how a conflict escalates and what can be done to reduce it again. It is important to understand that a conflict will always escalate and get worse if no one takes the initiative and does something to de-escalate it.

It is much easier to deal with a conflict that is at the lower levels, and much more difficult once the conflict has escalated to the top three levels.

It is therefore important to detect a conflict as early as possible.