Managing Sideline Conflicts

Managing Differences As a Sideliner

Probably sooner than later after starting your first Sideline, somebody you need to deal with will disappoint you. Conflicts can happen to Sideliners like: the company that is providing supplies fails to give you the promised discount, and seems unreachable to discuss their charging your card full price. Or your first customer shows up so late that you are unable to fulfill their need and they hint at posting a bad review on Yelp – when you didn’t do anything wrong!

Right or wrong, few factors will contribute more to defining you and your part-time business than how you manage differences. So gaining more and better conflict skills will help you immeasurably, and increase the fun factor in owning your Sideline

It’s helpful to understand the primary causes of conflict, strategies that seem to help most to address them, and ways of handling the emotional aspect of conflict management.


Conflicts grow out of differences that are likely to recur. People often end up in conflicts over facts, methods, roles, goals, or values. If the source of difference involves facts, like thinking you were supposed to meet a friend 20 minutes earlier than they arrived, the differences dissipate quickly. Same with methods – if you prefer to make popcorn with oil and your roommate prefers air popping, these differences are unlikely to kill your friendship. But if the differences involve enduring beliefs that rarely change, like values and personal goals, delving very deeply into these sources of conflict will rarely produce fruitful outcomes. With all sources of conflict its important to understand that these differences are rarely if ever “resolved” – or fixed forever. They have a way of recurring so its good to focus on ways of dealing with differences soon after they crop, rather than letting them boil over from inattention.

Strategies For Managing Conflicts

There are numerous approaches for reducing the frequency or level of conflict that happens with your Sideline. While these strategies might seem straight forward, they are deceptively simple to implement successfully on a regular basis.

1 Know what you want and state it – people in conflicts can’t read minds, so know what you do want and state it early in a dispute,

2 Recognize early warning – the earliest warning sign of impending conflict is irritation, which something isn’t right – particularly sensing that someone is trying to take something that rightfully belongs to you. When the irritation escalates to anger, its time to say something rather than stewing or keeping your upset locked up inside. However, if unattended, the anger will escalate to hostility, where you are no longer going after a problem, but instead after a person. When you go after a person someone invariably gets hurt.

3 Expect that People want to take Territory – people fight over 1 to 4 different kinds of territory: privacy, distance, influence, and action territory. It’s natural, normal and healthy for people to continually seek to take territory, even if it belongs to someone else.

4 Seek Agreements – Skilled conflict managers actively seek agreements, large and small – rather than wasting time trying to figure out who is more right in a dispute

5 Increase options by one – Its been said humans as well as animal fight over territory, so if someone else takes your territory, try to increase your options by one rather than continuing to be nose-to-nose with conflict avoiders.

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