conflict resolution

Translation by:
Pyotr Patrushev

conflict resolution

order it

The 12 skills of Conflict Resolution are as follows:

Conflict Resolution Skills

Conflict Resolution resources and training are based on 12 skills which may be relevant to solving any conflict. Pick and choose the skills appropriate to your particular issue or crisis.

Once you achieved some expertise with Conflict Resolution, you will have gained the following learning outcomes:

1. The win/win approach

Identify attitude shifts to respect all parties' needs.

2. Creative response

Transform problems into creative opportunities.

3. Empathy

Develop communication tools to build rapport. Use listening to clarify understanding.

4. Appropriate assertiveness

Apply strategies to attack the problem not the person.

5. Co-operative power

Eliminate "power over" to build "power with" others.

6. Managing emotions

Express fear, anger, hurt and frustration wisely to effect change.

7. Willingness to Resolve

Name personal issues that cloud the picture.

8. Mapping the conflict

Define the issues needed to chart common needs and concerns.

9. Development of options

Design creative solutions together.

10. Introduction to negotiation

Plan and apply effective strategies to reach agreement.

11. Introduction to mediation

Help conflicting parties to move towards solutions.

12. Broadening perspectives

Evaluate the problem in its broader context.

1. Win Win Approach

Opponents or Partners

The Win/Win Approach is about changing the conflict from adversarial attack and defence, to co-operation. It is a powerful shift of attitude that alters the whole course of communication.

One person consistently applying a joint problem-solving approach can make the difference. You, the reader, will probably be that person - redirecting the course of the conflict. Therefore, the first person you have to convince is yourself.

Until we give it attention, we are usually unaware of the way we argue. We often find ourselves with a knee-jerk reaction in difficult situations - based on long established habits combined with the passing mood of the moment. When challenged, we experience separateness, disconnectedness from those around us - a feeling of "you or me" - a sense that there isn't enough for both of us and if one person is right, then the other person must be wrong. Often we haven't taken even a moment to consider what is the best approach in the circumstances.

While people battle over opposing solutions "Do it my way!", "No, that's no good! Do it my way!", the conflict is a power struggle. What is needed is to change the agenda in the conversation. The win/win approach says:

I want to win
I want you to win too.

The challenge now is how to have this happen.

Go Back to Needs

The most important win/win manoeuvre you can make is to change course by beginning to discuss underlying needs, rather than only looking at solutions. The following story makes the point quite well:

    There are two people in a kitchen. There is only one orange left and both of them want it. What would you expect as the solution? Compromise is one option. They might cut it in half and each gets half.

    Let's assume that's what they do. One person now goes to the juicer and starts squeezing herself a rather too small orange juice. The other, with some difficulty, begins to grate the rind of the orange to flavour a cake.

Had they discussed needs rather than heading straight to solutions, they could have both had the equivalent of a whole orange. Their needs were complementary, in fact, not conflicting. With the determination to use a win/win approach, two sets of needs can frequently dovetail together.

Addressing each person s underlying needs means you build solutions that acknowledge and value those needs, rather than denying them. Even where solutions cannot be as perfect as in the orange story, the person feels quite differently about the outcome.

To probe below the surface requires redirecting the energy. Ask questions like "Why does that seeem to be the best solution to you?", "What's your real need here?", "What interests need to be served in this situation?", "What values are important to you here?", "What's the outcome or result you want?"

The answers to these questions significantly alters the agenda on the discussion table. It places there the right materials for co-operative problem- solving. It leads to opportunities for you to say what you need and for other people to say what they need too.

I want what's fair for all of us.
A win/win approach rests on strategies involving:
  • going back to underlying needs
  • recognition of individual differences
  • openness to adapting one s position in the light of shared information and attitudes
  • attacking the problem, not the people.

The Win/Win Approach is certainly ethical, but the reason for its great success is that IT WORKS. Where both people win, both are tied to the solution. They feel committed to the plan because it actually suits them.

Even when trust between the parties is very limited, the Win/Win Approach can be effective. If there's some doubt about the other person keeping their end of the bargain you can make the agreement reciprocal. "I'll do X for you, if you do Y for me." X supports their needs, Y supports yours. "I'll drive you to the party, if you clean the car." "I'll help you draw up those figures for your reports, if you sort out these invoice queries."

It's a successful strategy. Usually, co-operation can result in both people getting more of what they want. The Win/Win Approach is Conflict Resolution for mutual gain.


2. Creative Response

Problems or Challenges

The Creative response to conflict is about turning problems into possibilities. It is about consciously choosing to see what can be done, rather than staying with how terrible it all is. It is affirming that you will choose to extract the best form the situation.

Our attitudes colour our thoughts. Usually we are quite unaware of how they shape the way we see the world. Two dramatically contrasting attitudes in life are "Perfection" versus "Discovery". Let's call them attitude "hats". What "hat" do you get dressed in each day? Do you see difficulties as problems or as challenges?

The Perfection hat says: "Is this good enough or not?" (Usually not!) "Does this meet my impeccably high standards?"

The Discovery hat says: "How fascinating! What are the possibilities here?"

What is our mind chattering about under our Perfection hat?

Right or wrong?
Do I measure up?
Life is struggle.
Mistakes are unaccepTable.
Unbendable beliefs about what's proper.
Do you measure up?
Life is hard work.
I have to be right.
Don't take any chances!


Low self-esteem!

The search for Perfection sets up:

"Winners - & - Losers".

Such yardsticks can be used to make decisions about traffic jams, your partner, the kids, the photostat machine, the boss and - above all - you.

Is there a Discovery hat still sitting on the shelf in your wardrobe of possibilities? You may hardly have worn it since you were a young child. When you learnt to walk you didn't go "right foot", "wrong foot". It was just right foot, left foot, and each fall was as interesting as the next step. To the young child, everything is part of the great experiment.

You can get out that hat again and dust it off. What's tucked away underneath your Discovery hat?

Let's take a risk
What are the possibilities?
Everything's a success
How else can we look at this?

High self-esteem!

The process of Discovery invites:

"Winners - & - Learners".

If there are no failures, only learning, self-esteem gets a big boost upwards. You can put on your Discovery hat and problems look like intriguing crossword puzzles. "What will make the difference so he stops complaining to me all the time?", "What else can I try to get the kids to help with washing up?", "What are we freed up to do now that $7 million order has just been cancelled?", "How fascinating, the photostat machine has broken down again!"

Another Challenge? How Fascinating!

Are you judgemental and critical of your mistakes? Children who are continually protected from making mistakes can grow up dependent and overly cautious. Bosses who are overly critical of errors often get "yes" people to serve in their organisations. This doesn't mean you don't point out errors, or go through a correcting process. It means the error is regarded as a splendid opportunity for learning.

When an organisation encourages the willingness to risk in its employees, it gets an alive and motivated staff. We are at our most energised as we stand ready to act on the edge of our personal unknowns.

A not-so-famous but should be maxim: "If a thing's worth doing, it's worth doing badly!" is an invitation to experiment and risk.

Robert Kyosaki in his "Money and You" workshops often relates the very telling story of the IBM company in the States. One middle executive there made a tactical error that cost the company $9 million. The following week the executive, sure he was about to be fired, was called into the office of the Chairman. The Chairman started discussing plans for a huge new projet that he wanted the executive to direct. After a certain point, the executive was feeling so uncomfortable he had to stop the Chairman: "Excuse me, sir, you know I'm amazed. Last week I cost us $9 million. Why are you putting me in charge of this new project? I thought you were going to fire me." The Chairman smiled. "Fire you? Young man, I've just invested $9 million educating you. You're now one of my most valuable assets." Here was a chairman who valued the willingness to risk and learn. He knew it was an essential ingredient in the successful executive.

Life is not about winning and losing - it's about learning. When you fall down, you pick yourself up and note where the pot-hole was so you can walk around it the next time. A person who has gone "too far" knows just how far they can go. No "winners - and - losers", just "winners - and - learners".

That's the essence of

Ah, Conflict!
What an Opportunity!







Conflict Resolution

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