A Traveler’s Guide to Conflict Resolution
Whenever you travel with others for an extended period of time, conflict will inevitably arise between you (or between some members of the group) at some point.
Even if you’re best friends in the whole world, spending day after day (and every waking hour) in the close company of someone (and all of their annoying habits) can test the patience of even the most relaxed person.
These small annoyances will boil under the surface for a while, but they’ll eventually come out – usually when the two of you disagree over a major decision (such as which city to visit next).
If handled badly, in the heat of the moment, you might end up saying or doing things that can’t be easily undone, and you might both decide that the two of you shouldn’t travel together any more and go your different ways.
This can be pretty disastrous (both for your trip and for your long-term friendship), and although you might initially be glad to see the back of them, you’ll surely soon regret it and wish you’d taken a different action.
With the in mind, Chilton Tippin of SignalNews.com has come up with a traveler’s guide to conflict resolution. During Chilton’s trip around Europe with two of his buddies, he got in a fight with one of them and they decided to go different ways.
His guide should hopefully ensure such events never happen to you:
1. Do Not Avoid the Conflict – Both Robert and I knew that we were doing small things to get on one another’s nerves, but neither of us said anything. Our hope was that by not acknowledging it, we could either save face, or it would just go away. What ended up happening, however, was that the small annoyances festered, got bigger, and ultimately exploded in the Vienna train station.
2. Agree on the Problem – Often in complex situations, the parties involved in the conflict are actually arguing about two different things. Before proceeding, then, it is important that everyone agrees on the problem, simply because without this agreement, everyone is not on the same page. To do this, each party should state what they think the problem is—in the case of the Vienna train station, we should have made it clear that the problem was our lack of an itinerary. Once everyone agrees on the problem, you can begin taking proactive steps to resolve the conflict.
3. Get All of the Information – There will never be an agreeable end to a conflict unless both parties clearly understand one another’s viewpoints. If you are a team leader, this means acting as a moderator for the conflict, allowing each side to speak. If you are a party in the conflict, you should practice empathetic listening—trying to see the conflict from the other person’s point of view. Once all of the information is on the table, you can work as a team to find compromises.
4. Brainstorm Solutions – One you have agreed on the problem and gotten the information from each party, the next thing to do is start tossing around ideas and solutions. This is an obvious step, but it can get tricky if the problem is a particularly polarizing one. The point of this is to make sure everyone is involved in coming up with a solution. If everyone feels like they’re involved, then everyone will have the impression that they got something out of the compromise.
Following these four tips can help to sort out any small problems before they have time to boil up and become something much worse later, and can help you to come up with constructive, agreeable solutions. A great piece of advice in general!
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