How to Deal with Conflict: the Art of Nice

by Betty Lochner on December 21, 2011

No act of kindness is ever wasted.
– Aesop

You pretty much can’t go anywhere without someone being rude and creating a potential conflict. How we choose to deal with the situation will absolutely influence the outcome, for better or worse.

What usually happens when someone is rude or inappropriate around us? There are two basic responses:

1) Complain under our breath and walk away.
2) Fight back.

Fight or flee. Violence or silence. That’s what we usually choose.  That’s what has been modeled to us, that’s what we’ve learned, and that’s what we do.  Even when both of those responses aren’t the best choice.

But, you don’t have to fall into one of those two extremes. With some skill and practice in the basic art of nice, you can move toward a response that is responsive and assertive.

How do you do that?

What would happen if you were to try something really outrageous. What if you to were deal with the rudeness, like someone cutting in front of you in line, by being nice?  Not an avoidance nice, or a fake nice, but a real genuine assertive nice?

A study by Kerry Patterson, coauthor of three bestselling books, (Influencer, Crucial Conversations, and Crucial Confrontations),  found that eighty-five percent of the time, when a good conflict skills are modeled, it encourages others to do the same.  Rather than using violence or silence, the subject spoke up, usually using the exact words he or she had heard, such as: “I’m sorry, perhaps you’re unaware. We’ve been standing in line for over fifteen minutes.”   Much better than “hey bozo, move to the back of the line”, or doing absolutely nothing.

When provided with a healthy alternative to silence or violence, research subjects embraced a new “nice” script and used it the first chance they had.

When we practice and step away from violence or silence and move toward assertive or nice, we can get amazing results. Just think about the possible impact if instead of modeling conflict avoidance, we modeled and practiced good interpersonal skills? What if we practiced with our kids and co-workers and friends on a regular basis? What would the world be like if we regularly practiced being responsive, assertive, and nice?



Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home.


To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website:

Stay connected!

  • Join us on Facebook for daily communication tips, advice and challenges!




Share Button

© 2017 Cornerstone Coaching & Training. All Rights Reserved.