At J House Media, we have a tight-knit team. We see so much of each other, sometimes it feels more like we are family than co-workers. Each one of us has had our own personal struggles and private battles to fight, and without fail, the other team members step up to offer support through genuine friendship.

As most people can relate, though, even the best families still suffer the occasional sibling rivalry or the pokes across the “invisible line” that stir things up. I know from my last 2 years here, that our team is comprised of individuals that are mature, intelligent, and self-aware. Yet even so, we still have situations that require conflict resolution.

So from our experience, here are some of the ways we have learned to improve our internal communication and resolve disagreements:

Privacy.

Don’t talk about an issue in front of other people that are not involved if you can help it. This can invite opinions and advice that can end up frustrating the matter. We use the front porch or the back parking lot to talk about issues and even new ideas.

Ask questions and listen.

Make sure you understand why the other person is upset. If you are the one upset, try to convey your problem without getting emotional or attacking the other person.

Find the root.

I know it seems strange and mysterious, but often the issue on the table isn’t the real issue at all. Huh? That’s right! 9 times out of 10, there is another issue contributing to the problem at hand.

Maybe an ego got bruised earlier in the day by something else, or someone got hyper stressed about another situation all together and simply over-reacted. It may even be something from way back in that person’s past experience shaping their current attitude and response. And maybe, just maybe, the person over-reacting is you. Be mature enough to consider all the angles!

Respond, don’t react.

Respect the other person with your words and actions. It is far too easy when tempers flare to react emotionally to a situation and say regretful things or act unprofessionally. Take a few deep breaths, listen to what is really being said (find that root!), maybe you should even walk away for a few minutes to get in control.

Ask for a solution.

If someone takes you aside with a problem, ask them for a solution before presenting one yourself. That way you know exactly what they think the ideal resolution would be. It also takes the impulsive by surprise, because when someone is being hot-headed they often haven’t thought through things clearly. If you are the one bringing an issue up, be sure to have thought of a way to resolve it before broaching the topic.

Be willing to apologize.

Apologizing takes courage and maturity because you have to take ownership of your shortcomings (or sometimes even perceived shortcomings). It can immediately diffuse a difficult situation, and sometimes that is the only resolution the other person is seeking. If you have someone on your team who can’t apologize and tends to shift the blame, it may be a good idea to replace them, since their attitude can be damaging in many professional situations.