A Few Tools I Use To Resolve Conflicts

In the last post we talked about where product managers run into conflicts and what some of the root causes for those conflicts are. In this post we will take a look at some tools I have found to be useful when working on conflict resolutions.

Leave Your Emotions at the Door

The quickest way to escalate a tense situation is to let your emotions control your actions. So many things can go wrong if you go into a confrontation feeling intense emotions such as embarrassment, anger, or fear.

When I have to have difficult conversations with people who I feel have wronged me, I sometimes have these emotions stirring inside. It is important to keep these feelings from influencing the things I do or say so that I don’t negatively impact my team.

DeathtoStock_Medium9To accomplish this, I will often step outside and focus on my breathing while walking around the building. Once I have regained control of my emotions, I will go back to my desk and write down what my desired outcomes are from the upcoming meeting. I will also write down how I expect myself to behave and why I expect that. When I am in the conversation and it begins to escalate, I look at my notes and remind myself of my own expectations.

Find Common Ground

You are having a conversation with someone who you have crossed paths with because of some similarity you both share. Try and focus on those things that make you alike, not different. Instead of trying to think of the next stone to throw, try and establish some common ground. Use subjects like hobbies, sports, and family life to help create some basic relational ties.

If you are walking into a meeting that you know is likely to get heated, take time to focus on this piece. Don’t just jump right into the tough topics when the meeting starts. Establish those relational ties early so you can avoid the heated conversation.

Show Your Weaknesses

This is about helping the other party understand that you and your team are human. Look for opportunities to take accountability for mistakes you or your team have made. Be sure to apologies for those short comings. This allows the other side to lower their defenses and admit to their own deficiencies.

Provide Concessions

Many people view confrontational situations as zero sum games (having to have a clear winner and loser). Work to deconstruct this unnecessary view point. Seek mutually beneficial agreements that serve both party’s needs. This requires concessions on both sides. Be the first party to provide concessions and create that underlying theme early in the conversation. You might even be able to strengthen the relationship. Now you have just created a win/win situation. Nice work.


  1. What are some techniques you use to control your emotions?
  2. What are some other ways you create basic relational ties?

Please let me know what your answers are in the comments below!

Thanks for reading.

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