Saturday, May 5, 2007

Conflict Resolution Revisited

If I say that I encounter conflict, large and small, pretty much everyday, I hope I am not outing myself as a quarrelsome troublemaker. There are always things that irk us and make us pause or draw our attention in one way or another.

Let me then summarize our session on conflict resolution.

There are five major styles that we use to deal with conflict.

We compete. Either we win or we lose. Conflict is a zero-sum game with a clear outcome.

We withdraw and avoid conflict. Both parties loose. Potential conflict is deferred.

We accomodate. One party gives in and loses, the other wins.

We compromise. Both parties agree to meet each other half-way. Both claim a small victory.

We collaborate. Both parties win.

While we can easily conclude that the last style is the most desirable, given the cirucumstances, any other style of conflict might be better suited to preserve our interests. And yet, to create a win-win situation remains the objective of most negotiations and conflict resolutions. Important is that we do not pretend to know the other person's intention. Also, we have to avoid to hold the other person responsible for our feelings.

Let's now look at the 7 steps of the CAN model to resolve conflict.

1. We have to take a breather, reflect on the problem and speak only when we are calm.

2. Before we start to engage on the issues, we need to build trust.

3. Now, we need to set the ground rules of engagement. We have to create a safe and respectful container for our dialogue. They may stipulate that we cannot walk away or that we cannot interrupt the other person.

4. We have to tell our story. Important is that we do not attempt to resolve the conflict yet. We need to hear all the necessary information.

5. We need to become aware of the needs and fears of the other party. We want to know what is really going on.

6. Together, we brainstorm for possible solutions how we can meet each others' needs and wants.

7. Once we have certain solutions on the table, we need to find out if they are practical.

The final point I want to make about the seminar is that to resolve conflict in a sustainble way, we need to understand better our prejudices that lead to conflict. For conflict to result in a positive outcome, we need to rethink our way of doing things, how we think and how our organisations and institutions function. I found this a most valuable insight. Often, it is our prejudice and how we do things that leads to conflict. For this reason, personal growth and development are closely linked to conflict resolution.


Valentin said...

Thomas, it is nice to see that you have reconsidered once again the notion of conflict management, particularly at the work-place. You also show willingness to learn from those insights raised during the seminar with Berenice De la Croix.
I guess that you are looking forward towards her next presentation tomorrow. I hope that we could interact more this time and bring some insights into the issue of conflict management on further level.

Thomas Blaser said...

I really appreciate the workshop on conflict management, personal growth and time management. I can see all these new insights that really make my life easier.