Conflict Resolution

The girls are always watching and listening to the adults in the room. Set a good example for them and the Life Skills practice of handling disagreements – they’re going to happen! Whenever humans interact with one another there will be conflict, because our unique perspectives, ideas, and priorities influence our actions.

“Conflict occurs when two or more people attempt to occupy the same space at the same time.” -H.B. Karp

This page includes the following information on conflict resolution: Principles, Styles, Resolution Process, Tips, Questions, and Mediation Advice.

Principles of Conflict Resolution

  • Conflict is neither good nor bad. it simply is.
  • Conflict generates energy. The trick is to harness it for good.
  • The goal in conflict needs to be resolution acceptable to those involved.
  • The resolve conflicts, the real issues must be uncovered.
  • Conflict must have the goal of problem solving rather than making everyone happy.
  • Participants in a dispute make better decisions about solutions and will more likely abide by the agreement because they have been part of the process.

Conflict Resolution Styles

Which of these five conflict styles are you most likely to use? Go to gsLearn to find the course 499 Productive Conflict Resolution for Adults and learn more.

  • Competing/Forcing (Win/Lose)
  • Accommodation (Lose/Win)
  • Avoidance/Withdrawal (Lose/Lose)
  • Collaboration (Win/Win)
  • Compromise (Win/Lose – Win/Lose)

Step Conflict Resolution Process

Step One: Deal Effectively with Anger

  • Don’t react: Go to the balcony
  • Know your hot buttons
  • Recognize the tactics being used against you
  • Buy time to think and prepare
  • Don’t make important decisions on the spot

Step Two: Do Your Homework (Think Before Your Approach)

  • How does this conflict affect each of us?
  • What interests, needs, or values are at stake here for each of us?
  • What prejudices or assumptions do we each have about the other?
  • What approach or style would be best here (avoid, compete, collaborate, etc.)?
  • If I wanted to collaborate, what would be the right time and place to initiate?

Step Three: Set a Positive Tone

  • Invite the other person to negotiate (“Could we talk?”)
  • State positive intentions (“I’d like to make things better between us.”)
  • Acknowledge and validate the other person. (“I can see this is difficult for you too.” or “Thank you for working with me on this.”)

Step Four: Establish Ground Rules (They may be stated or unstated)

  • One person talks at a time
  • No interruptions while the other person is speaking
  • Willingness to work to improve the situation

Step Five: Discuss and Define the Problem

  • Express yourself non-combatively using effective listening and speaking techniqus
  • Identify interests and needs
  • Ask problem-solving questions
  • If necessary, discuss assumptions, suspicions, and values
  • Use power constructively
  • Summarize new understandings

Step Six: Brainstorm Possible Solutions

  • Each person contributes ideas to satisfy interests and needs
  • Don’t criticize or evaluate ideas yet
  • Be creative
  • Use “I can…” “We could…” rather than “You should…” or “You’d better…” language

Step Seven: Evaluate and Choose Solutions

  • Solutions should be mutually agreeable, realistic, specific, and balanced
  • Solutions should address the main interests and needs of both parties

Step Eight: Follow Up

  • Check back with each other at an agreed-on time and date
  • If the agreement isn’t working, use the same process to revise it
  • Allow time for healing

Conflict Resolution Tips

  • Talk directly. Assuming that there is no threat of physical violence, talk directly to the person with whom you have the problem.
  • Choose a good time. Plan to talk to the other person at the right time and allow yourselves enough time for a thorough discussion.
  • Plan Ahead. Think about what you want to say ahead of time.
  • Don’t blame or name call. Antagonizing the other person only makes it harder for them to hear you.
  • Give information. But don’t interrupt.
  • Listen. Give the other person a chance to tell his or her side of the story completely.
  • Talk it all through. Once you start, get all the issues and feelings out into the open.
  • Work on solutions. When you have reached this point in the discussion, start working on a solution.
  • Follow through. Agree to check with each other at specific times to make sure that the agreement is still working…then really do it.

Ask the Right Questions

  • Ask “Why?”
  • Ask “Why not?”
  • Ask “What if?”
  • Ask “What makes that fair?”
  • Ask open-ended non-judgmental questions
  • Ask problem solving questions.
  • Ask for their advice

Mediation Advice

  • Take a deep breath and relax
  • Remember that the problem belongs to the disputants
  • Do not overract to emotional outburts or crying
  • Keep an even pace
  • Focus on the process
  • Calmly change the focus if the parties seem to be stuck
  • Remember that you are a role model for behaior
  • Be warm, welcoming, and respectful of all disputants
  • Check out the body language for tension
  • Do not discount anything that a disputant brings up
  • Calmly restate their emotions and the causes of those emotions
  • Maintain comfortable eye contact
  • Take notes, ask questions

The Tone of Voice

It’s not so much what you say
As the manner in which you say it:
It’s not so much the language you use
As the tone in which you convey it.

“Come here!” I sharply said,
And the child cowered and wept,
“Come here.” I said,
And straight to my lap he crept.

Words may be mild and fair
But the tone may pierce like a dart:
Words may be soft as the summer air
But the tone may break my heart:

For words come from the mind,
Grow by study and art…,
But the tone leaps from the inner self,
Revealing the state of the heart.

Whether you know it or not,
Whether you mean or care,
Gentleness, kindness, love, and hate,
Envy, and anger are there,

Then would your quarrels avoid
And peace and love rejoice?
Keep anger not only out of your words…
Keep it out of your voice.

Author Unknown