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Effective English Phrases and Strategies to Resolve Conflict through 5 Steps

Conflict is never fun nor easy to deal with, but it's a part of life. In your personal and professional life, you'll have to deal with times when people complain or disagree with you and how you respond to this will often determine whether the conflict is resolved successfully or not.

One of the best ways that you can manage conflict is by using the appropriate language that signals to the other person four things

  1. Attention - you are 100% focused on what they are saying to you

  2. Effort - you are trying to understand everything they are saying, even if it's confusing

  3. Empathy - you can understand how they feel, even if you disagree with them

  4. Teamwork - you want to solve this problem/disagreement together as a team rather than against each other

In order to demonstrate these four things, consider the steps below and the English phrases included for each, which have been proven to create a more productive conversation during a conflict.

Step #1: Mirroring

The action of "mirroring" is basically repeating some parts of what a person tells you. This shows that you are truly listening and if you use the last few words they say and repeat it back to them with a question tone, they will talk more, which is good.

When people are upset, they usually want to talk about why they are upset and they appreciate it when you invite them to talk more about it instead of interrupting them. To do this easily, just use the last thing they said and ask it back to them.

  • Other Person: “All of these things are making me stressed.”

  • You: “You’re stressed?”

  • Other Person: “I have many things to do, so I can’t get everything done on time.”

  • You: “You can’t get everything done on time?”

  • Other Person: “Whenever I try to find a solution, he just complains about it”

  • You: “He complains about it?”

Step #2: Labeling

The action of labelling is showing that you are identifying the other person’s feelings and inviting them to talk more about these feelings. The best way to do this is by using the sense verbs, mainly "sound" and "seem":

  • It sounds like this is bothering you.

  • It seems like you don’t have enough time these days.

  • I sense that it's a lot of pressure for you.

When you label what someone is saying to you, that person will think: "Yes! Thank you! You understand how I feel!" and this will create a good connection with that person.

Step #3: Showing understanding and building rapport

This step involves showing that you can understand their point of view. It does not mean that they are completely right - it means that you can see the issue from their perspective.

  • I see your point.

  • I understand what you mean.

  • I can understand how you feel.

Step #4: Checking that you understand and showing that you’re listening

This step shows the other person that you are committed to understanding them, not just by listening but my summarizing what they told you to ensure you got it correct.

  • If I understand you correctly, you’re saying that…

  • Okay, what I’m hearing from you is…

  • So, you mean….

  • If I heard you correctly, your point is….

Step #5: Focusing on the problem together as a team, not as enemies

After you've understood their side, including their needs and why they are unsatisfied related to those needs, you can propose working together as a team to solve the problem instead of arguing about who will get what they want.

  • How can we find a way that works for both of us?

  • What can we do to make this win-win?

  • What is a solution that can make both of us happy?

In summary, a key part of resolving a conflict is ensuring that the dialogue between you and the other person remains respectful and productive. People are far more likely to accept proposals and compromises when they feel understood by the other person. Use these expressions and these five steps in your next conflict to reach a more successful result.


Choose a series of expressions from the examples in this lesson that you would use in the following conflicts:

  1. Your roommate doesn't want people visiting the apartment but you want to invite your friends sometimes.

  2. Your customer wants a refund for a service they already received but a 100% refund isn't possible.

  3. Your employee wants to book vacation next week but it's unavailable because other employees have already booked this time.


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