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After working in numerous leadership capacities and training in conflict facilitation, I’ve developed key lessons on approaching conflict. I am not an expert and make many mistakes (hello being human), but I am learning and want to share my knowledge. Here are some conflict resolution practices to support those looking to work on these skills.


10 Practical Ways to Handle Conflict On & Off the Block

1. Awareness

Being aware of your physical home is important. If you notice your blood racing, your heart pounding and your face all scrunched up, it is probably not the best time to engage in a conversation. In this state, the brain and body go into flight, fight, or freeze mode, which means reactions become impulsive, charged, and often problematic.

Active Tip: Take a break and re-engage at a later time. Doing something to help your physical home complete the stress cycle during this time can be helpful. You could move your body in a way that feels good, debrief with someone you love and trust, or write down what you are experiencing.

2. Listen to Understand

Listening to understand is easier said than done but gets easier with practice. It involves active listening to the other person without interrupting or running through the list of things you want to say. So often, people don’t need to solve conflict immediately. They need to feel seen, heard, and validated; listening can help achieve feelings without reaching an agreement.

Active Tip: Ask open-ended questions to clarify their perspective. You can try this by saying, “This is what I am hearing you say [insert what you just heard]. Is this what you mean?”

3. Ask for What You Need

When conflict arises, try to practice thinking through what you need in the present moment. Are you looking for solutions or just want to be heard? Or maybe you are just hungry. You may need a snack and some water. And a nap. Taking a moment to take stock and think about what you need in a tricky situation and then communicating that can be helpful for everyone involved.

Active Tip: Take some space from the conflict and reflect on what would help you move forward. A ten-minute walk, writing on paper, or calling a friend can be helpful ways to debrief, allowing you to figure out what you need.

4. Find the Similarities Between You

Try to find common ground with the other person. Perhaps you both want the same solution but are approaching the problem differently. Remember that bringing an open mind to a situation is very helpful almost one hundred percent of the time. Here is a chance to practice that.

Active Tip: Think about you two versus the problem rather than you two versus each other.

5. Avoid the Personal

Often, conflict escalates so fast because we say mean things. What happens if we take the person out of the equation and focus on the issue itself? Focus on addressing the problem, not the person. When someone feels attacked, they often get defensive because they no longer feel psychological safety, and their walls go up. Once this has happened, it is unlikely that a productive conversation can happen.

Active Tip: Think through how you might feel if someone says to you,

“You always do this. You make the stupidest mistakes, and it ruins everyone's day.”


“I am frustrated this happened because I thought we went over this during training. Can you help me understand more about how this happened and what you need moving forward so it doesn’t happen again?”

Avoiding the personal and focusing on the issue is the best way to move forward for all feelings involved.

6. Focus on the Present Moment

When in conflict, it’s easy to get caught up in past events or future concerns. However, focusing on the present moment can help keep the conversation constructive and solution-focused. Try to avoid bringing up old grudges or projecting fears onto the future.

Active Tip: Take a few deep breaths and ground yourself in the present moment by noticing your surroundings, such as sounds, smells, and sensations in your body.

7. Practice Empathy

Empathy is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes to understand their perspective. Practicing empathy can help create a more positive and productive conversation. When you genuinely try to see things from another person’s perspective, you may discover that you have more in common than you thought. You are both human and at the end of the day, we are shockingly similar.

Active Tip: Imagine yourself in their situation and how you might feel. Think about their experience, which is likely quite different from yours and may have led to their current feelings.

8. Use “I” Statements

Using “I” statements is helpful instead of “you” statements when expressing feelings or needs. An “I” statement helps express your thoughts and feelings in a non-confrontational manner, helping to de-escalate a situation. An example of this looks like, “When you interrupt me, I feel disrespected and frustrated because it’s important to me to be able to get my point across.”

Active Tip: A formula for this is

  • Start with “I feel” or “I think.”

  • Describe the situation that is causing the conflict. Be specific and focus on objective facts versus assumptions about the other person’s intentions.

  • Explain why the situation is affecting you. Providing context for the problem may help the other person understand where you’re coming from.

  • Provide a suggestion for a solution that might help resolve the issue. Often this looks like asking for what you need, which is hard, but a crucial piece of the conflict puzzle that often gets ignored and can lead to frustration and resentment for all.

9. Take Accountability for Your Part

Conflict, like a conversation, is a two-way street. It takes two to tango, as they say. Taking a moment to acknowledge how you have contributed to the problem can help de-escalate the situation—taking accountability shows that you are committed to finding a solution and not just looking to attack. My brother once told me, “there is nothing more beautiful than an apology,” and I never forgot that. The hardest part about accountability is putting your ego aside to acknowledge your behaviour. Admitting you’ve made a mistake can be challenging; it opens us up to vulnerability, but by practicing accountability, we show our community that they can do it too.

Active Tip: Zoom out, and look at your actions objectively. Maybe you’ll be able to see more clearly how you contributed to the conflict.

10. Consider Mediation

It is okay to ask for help. Sometimes a situation is too difficult to resolve; in this case, consider seeking mediation. A neutral third party can facilitate a conversation and find common ground. Mediation is beneficial in situations where there is a power dynamic at play or extremely high emotions. Asking for help, like giving an apology, is a beautiful thing.

Active Tip: Choose a neutral mediator trusted by both parties.


To wrap up, conflict resolution is a complex and nuanced process. It is a skill that takes practice and patience and, like many things, is easier said than done. Even with practice and training, I still make common mistakes like avoiding confrontation, taking a passive-aggressive approach, and ignoring all the advice listed above. Conflict resolution is complex, like being human. Acknowledging this and continuing to practice is the way to continue moving forward.


10 Powerful Conflict Resolution Practices

We will not always agree with each other, and that is okay. Here are 10 practical tips for navigating conflict on, and off, the block.

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