February 2003 - Conflict Resolution
Conflict Resolution Techniques
No One and Nothing is Against You
Author Gary Simmons says, "There is no one and nothing against you" in his book, The I of the Storm. With that thought in mind, is it possible to understand that WE might somehow be responsible for our interactions with others? That WE might be somehow responsible for how we react and interact with others?
Conflict resolution skills are desperately needed in many workplaces today. The world around us is filled with hostility at times, while some of our government leaders seem intent on creating war.
We do have choices in how we handle our own affairs. We can choose a more peaceful existence.
This month's article provides tips for handling conflict in peaceful ways. It also offers tips for taking responsibility for our own individual part in creating, sustaining or resolving conflict.
If we can understand what parts of ourselves may contribute to creating or sustaining conflict, we can begin to understand what parts of ourselves can also be useful in resolving conflict.
If you can begin to see that your own attitudes, beliefs, prejudices, values, personality and habits may be partly responsible for conflict, you can then begin to adjust what you do, how you do it and who you do it with. That tiny shift (the beginning), will have ripple effects and start to transform your relationships.
This is not easy work, make no mistake about it. This work of looking at your own role in conflict requires maturity, patience and diligence to be successful. It will not happen overnight or all at once. This is a growth and development process.
If we are willing to understand the other person's point of view, we can find a more peaceful resolution to disagreements. And, we can gain a broader perspective that helps us avoid conflict in the future.
For example, when you have a disagreement with someone at work, it helps to put yourself in their place.
If you do all that, you may find that your disagreement is not so large after all.
If you can talk to the other person, ask them to try "trading places" with you in the same way. By getting to know each other better, you can build on what you share and can agree on, instead of focusing on your disagreements. You can come to appreciate how they see the world and they can come to appreciate how you see it. Together, you can work to solve the real problems not waste your time and energy on your differences.
When a conflict arises, consider talking to yourself as the other person by trying to understand their perspective. Make a list of at least a dozen reasons why they might have that viewpoint before confronting them. When you do talk to them, seek to understand rather than defend your position, prove yourself right or prove them wrong. Truly listen to why they believe the way they do. You may learn something very important about them, about yourself and about the situation. From there, you can both work toward a mutually beneficial resolution.
One of the reasons that corporate conflicts become more inflamed is the prevalent use of e-mail. Since it is a very "flat" communication method and prone to misunderstandings, feelings can be hurt, other people can be quickly drawn into the conflict and the misunderstanding can get out of hand very quickly.
If you feel yourself wanting to "fire back" to a message, try talking to someone who is not involved for a clearer view of what might be happening. Trust me, I know that's much easier to say than to do. Still, if you are willing to back away from responding out of anger, frustration, impatience or superficial hurt, your professionalism will improve and your career chances will also improve. Nobody likes someone who is constantly on the defensive or can be counted on to send messages to a wide distribution list.
Improving your tolerance, understanding and compassion will improve your health by eliminating those toxic acids that fire up in your stomach every time you get angry or those squeezes around your heart every time you feel attacked.
If possible, wait 24 hours before responding to a message that you think is somehow attacking you. Better yet, don't respond at all � hit the Delete key and forget they ever wrote it. Reaffirm that you have mutually important partnership goals and conduct yourself as if you are still working well together � you may be amazed at the way you perceive the situation. You may be amazed at how well the other person views you as well.
Remind yourself constantly � no one and nothing is against you.
Following are some guidelines for working through disagreements in organizations.
A method for resolving conflict in organizations through positive means.
(*) Community � Whatever group we are part of � It could be a work group, a management team, a business, a community organization, a government agency or any other group that works together.
Source: Adapted by permission from the Mennonite Church USA's
"Agreeing and Disagreeing in Love" http://peace.mennolink.org/
Exercise 1: Checking your perception
You can do this exercise alone, person-by-person or in a staff/group meeting.
Doesn't it make sense that if we come up with different perceptions on this simple exercise, that we might find we can easily disagree about other issues that have strong attachments to our values, beliefs, experience or history.
Is anyone willing to go to war over how many squares there are in this exercise?
What might this tell us about people who are different from us? Could it be that they simple see something different than we see?
Exercise 2: Showing up as a leader - taking a stand
Write out your answers to these questions on a separate piece of paper
Principles at work: Managing yourself is more important and more effective than managing (fixing) others.
Competence: Moving from fear and worry to finding positive ways to change your perception and take responsibility for your part in a situation.
Skills: Communicating clearly without avoiding issues, blaming others or defending yourself.
This exercise was adapted from Stephen Covey's "Circle of Concern/Circle of Influence" in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. See the Resources section for additional articles that describe this in more depth.
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Our wish for you: We hope this month brings you more friends, better relationships and more love in your life. Here's something you can share with your friends: a Hug Certificate
Caption: "I'll begin by reading the minutes from our last meeting." Higgins: 'If I don't get out of this room, my head will explode.' Jennings: "I feel like Bill Murray trapped in the movie, Groundhog Day.' Milbrook: "This is two hours of my life I'll never get back.' . . . "
About our resource links: We do not endorse or agree with all the beliefs shared in these links. We do keep an open mind about different viewpoints and respect the ability of our readers to decide for themselves what is useful.
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Page updated: October 16, 2023
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