It’s great to have an Open Door Policy, but to effectively resolve conflict you must also have an Open Mind Policy.

One way to open your door and your mind is to take AIM at conflict. It’s a simple, yet powerful, approach that is outlined in The Manager’s Conflict Resolution Handbookby Ilayne Geller, Ph.D.:

  • Attitude—your positive beliefs and thoughts about the conflict
  • Intention—the outcome or result you’d like to achieve
  • Message—how you communicate your intention, both verbally and nonverbally

More than merely managing the negative effects of conflict, AIM actually creates positive change. Taking AIM:

  • Resolves the conflict and enhances the relationship
  • Facilitates the best possible result for the organization
  • Ensures high performance and improves productivity
  • Leads to a better work environment

Effectively resolving conflict begins with your attitude. There is a mountain of evidence that attitude influences all areas of life. You simply cannot create positive outcomes with a negative attitude. Having a positive attitude doesn’t mean being idealistic or unrealistic. It means you believe that it is at least possible to change the situation for the better.

Whether you’re personally involved in a conflict or you’re helping others work through one, your attitude about the situation will significantly influence how it gets resolved.

Let’s say one of your co-workers, Anthony, disagrees with your plans to implement a new customer service initiative. In addition, you’ve heard that he’s badmouthed you and your idea to others. Just imagine the outcome of a discussion if you approach Anthony with thoughts like, “Anthony has way more clout with the boss than I do” or “Anthony is such a jerk. There’s no way he’s going to change his mind no matter how much sense I make.” You would reek of negativism and that would play a huge role in the outcome of the discussion.

Consider, on the other hand, what might happen if you have a positive attitude going into the discussion: “I’m confident Anthony and I will have a productive discussion. We will agree on the best approach, and we’ll have a pleasant interaction as well.” Even if you are a skeptic, doesn’t it make sense that a positive approach to conflict will result in a better outcome than a negative approach? You are the creator of your thoughts; therefore, you are the creator of your attitude toward any conflict that comes your way. Replace any self-defeating or situation-defeating beliefs with realistic, optimistic thoughts. Sometimes, adjusting a pessimistic attitude will be easy: “Hey, wait a minute. I have lots of experience and insights about this decision to bring to the table.”

Other times, it will be more difficult, and you may have to stretch a bit to be upbeat. Let’s face it, most of us have to work with people who we simply don’t care for or who we constantly butt heads with. We’re not suggesting that you convince yourself to be friends or that you even have to like them. A more positive yet still realistic attitude in this case would be to shift your feelings from dislike to tolerance, or to decide that you can have a civil working relationship despite your feelings.

Remember, if necessity is the mother of invention, then conflict is the father of positive change. So open your door and your mind by reading this power-packed rapid-read book. It is filled with practical tips to help you constructively resolve conflict…at work and at home.