How to Manage Conflicts the Emotionally Intelligent Way

Throwing Chairs

Conflicts are present in our lives no matter whether we are at work or home or in a volunteer position.

Managing conflicts can be a stressful experience for all parties involved.

Dealing With Conflict

Sometimes we create conflicts by our own actions and at other times, it comes our way by no doing of our own.

Irrespective of how it came about, we ought to have the skills to deal with it.

There is a spectrum of people on how they view conflicts. On one extreme is someone who avoids conflict at any cost and on the other extreme is a person who invites conflict. A lot of us are in the middle of this broad spectrum. I would say that neither of the extremes is good.

  • One should not avoid conflicts because if you throw things under the rug, there will come a point where you will trip over the rug yourself.
  • On the other extreme, you have people throwing (virtual) chairs at others by inviting conflict with people around them. And of course, this is certainly not the way to live in a social world.

Where ever we happen to be on this spectrum, we ought to know how to come out of a conflicting situation in a win-win manner.

Emotional Intelligence Steps

If you happen to have created the conflicting situation yourself, it should be easy for you to fix it. Keep your ego aside and make amends with the person with whom you have created the situation.

However, it is not that straightforward of a case when someone else creates a conflicting situation for you. In that case, you need to follow a certain process to deal with the entire situation.

  • First of all, try to get a hold on your emotions. When someone springs a conflict on you, usually, your emotions of anger will run high. They will most probably manifest in a physical way. Getting a hold on your emotions during the first few hours and not reacting is the key to handling it intelligently. I once got a great advice from my mentor – he told me to write an email to the person who had created a conflicting situation with me but save it as draft only. He told me to sit on it for twenty-four hours and then re-read my email. If you follow this advice, you will invariably find yourself changing the wordings of the email. I actually practiced this approach for first few times; after a few iterations, I got to a stage where I didn’t have to even pen down my emotions on a drafted email. I could work on it in my head but the point is to not take action until your emotions have subsided.
  • When your emotions have cooled down, you will be able to think rationally and put yourself in the shoes of the other person to understand why they acted in the way they did. Try and find out what exactly did you dislike about their behavior.
    • Is it what they said?
    • Is it the manner in which they said it?
    • Are they under some pressure to act in the way they did?
    • What really is the cause of your concern?
  • When you understand the cause of concern, have that important conversation with them in a heartfelt way. Show them that you understand where they are coming from and genuinely make them understand what you disliked about their behavior. When you speak from your heart, you will certainly succeed in reaching out to the other person and resolving the conflict.

So what type of person are you when it comes to handling conflicts at work? Are you more likely to throw it under a rug, or are you more likely to throw a chair? What steps can you take to moderate your tendencies to better handle conflict with emotional intelligence? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Aditi Chopra
Aditi Chopra is an experienced leader in the software industry
She is a consultant, writer and a leader
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L2L Contributing Author