Dealing with Conflict: Keeping an Open Mind to Understand Other Points of View

Put a group of people into a closed system, add a dollop of diversity and a dash of deadlines, sprinkle in some stress, and voila – you have a perfect recipe for conflict. In the workplace, conflict is practically an inevitability. That’s unfortunate, because conflict is destructive and counter-productive to our daily efforts.

But you can minimize the impact that conflict has on you and on your team and reach resolution more quickly if you keep an open mind and approach it with the goal of finding common ground. Here are some proven strategies you can employ to keep your mind open and ready to reach toward resolution instead of retreating toward anger when those unavoidable moments of conflict arise. Use these techniques to keep an open mind and try to understand others’ points of view.

  • Defy your normal physical perspectives.
    Try using your non-dominant hand to perform everyday tasks. Attempt walking backward through your house or along (safe!) familiar paths. This simple adjustment tricks your mind into learning new things.
  • Sample new artistic offerings.
    It’s easy to try out new musical artists through services like Pandora and Spotify. The internet provides lots of access to virtual galleries, so why not check out some new artists? YouTube gives you practically limitless access to comedians, dancers, and snippets of theater productions, movies, and television shows that you might not normally watch. Exposing yourself to those things is a great way to stretch your boundaries and be more accepting of new ideas.
  • Learn something new at least once a week.
    Ferreting out new factoids and trivia has never been easier. Pull up Wikipedia and click the Random Article button. Visit the website for interesting organizations like National Geographic, The Smithsonian Institution, The New York Times, or the Economist and click an article. Join a fact-of-the-day or word-of-the-day mailing list. Just make sure you’re choosing to explore new ideas.
  • Look for shades of grey.
    It’s easy to fall into the trap of seeing things as black or white, right or wrong. But the world is more complicated than that – no matter how much we want to put people and things into neat, narrow boxes.
  • Challenge your own belief system daily – one issue at a time.
    You don’t have to change your mind about everything, or even anything. But do make sure that you don’t just think things, but know exactly what you think and why you think it. Too often we believe things very strongly for weak reasons. Exploring our own beliefs and testing them helps us to understand not just our own beliefs and thought processes, but the beliefs and thought processes of others!