There is a lot to be said about this subject and I will probably update this entry a couple of times before calling it a day. There are many different methods that people advocate when dealing with conflict, some of which I will discuss later for comparison. My method is fairly simple. The first is abstraction - listen to the person who has the problem but prevent yourself from creating stories or rationalizations of what they are saying. Simply listen to the content of the message - ask clarifying questions as necessary. Avoid assumptions (this again is part of the “do not make up your own story”). Continue to ask questions until you have the whole picture. Be open to criticism - you only grow and develop when you can discover weakness and improve things that you have been doing wrong. If its not related to yourself, make sure to give yourself time to reflect on what the person has expressed - make sure they understand that you will think on what has been said. Always try to remain objective about the matter - the more emotional you are being, it is likely that the more unfair you are being to the person. Be open and honest.
I am not trying to say that the above is something that is easy to do, or does not take a lot of practice. Of course, it is not easy or there would be much less conflict in the world. But it is a skill that can be gained through focus and determination. Whenever you have been in a conflict, or a difference in opinion (same thing different nomenclature), make sure to review your actions, the impact on the other person or people, and the results. It is always possible to learn something, and keep in mind that “winning” a conflict is sometimes a long term loss - specifically if you do not see the negative impact it has on the other people involved. Watching for impact can be hard to do, and more so if the people are non communicative. This is also a skill that takes time, effort and practice. Remember that in the long term, your ability to collaborate and use these soft skills will dominate your individual technical skill. They are just as important as learning new methods, and algorithms.
Take Away: There is no simple way to manage conflict. Try your best to look at it cleanly, and remain open and honest. Always create an environment where others can feel safe i discussing any subject free of reprisals or repercussions.