There are a few ways to deal with conflict. The most common approach is to avoid it and the next is tackle it head on. My natural propensity is to do the latter.
Both of these can be useful in some situations. Not every conflict is worth dealing with and many lose their edge with time. Then again, a few deserve to be dealt with head on. Some issues and differences in opinion require difficult conversations.
An underrated approach to dealing with conflict is to approach it with humor. I was in a meeting recently where we were looking for a way to get a commitment from everyone to engage with everyone in the meeting instead of their laptops. My natural approach to this would have been to have had a difficult conversation – being engaged is important and so on.
At best, this message might have been received as preachy. And, at worst, it would have been really annoying.
Someone then came up with another idea – every time we saw someone disengage, we’d ask them for a fun fact.
That changed the dynamic in the room almost instantly. A serious discussion had been transformed into a game.
This idea could be just as easily applied in other meetings and even on family dinner tables.
I don’t naturally jump to humor as a way of dealing with conflict. But, it is incredibly effective and I hope to use it more often.