Just as we always hope there will never be problems to solve, we also wish that we could avoid conflict. Countless times during my lifetime of counseling clients I have heard people say, “I hate conflict so I avoid it.” Of course, nothing is accomplished if it isn’t addressed. But, since most people never are taught how to do this, there is a natural reluctance to attend to it. So, let’s change that! Here are the essential steps to conflict resolution:
- Create a Productive Atmosphere – Working together makes the conflict resolution environment one of win-win. Openness to other ideas, having it take place in a neutral environment, etc. will automatically help defuse the hostility that conflict can create.
- Clarify Perceptions – This step involves asking questions and clarifying one’s own as well as the other person’s perceptions. It is avoiding stereotyping, working at trying to understand your conflict partner, and using the “listening” and “understanding” aspects of your communication skills.
- Determine Needs of Those Involved – This step is looking at yourself honestly, determining what you really need, and what your goals are. And then, having a willingness to listen to what the other person’s needs are.
- Generate Options – During this step, brainstorming is important; generating as many options as possible and the willingness to accept that the other person may have good ideas.
- Develop Action Steps – Now is the time to take a look at all of the options and determine what to do to resolve the conflict.
- Win-Win Outcome – The only action steps allowed are those that result in a win-win situation. A perceived win-lose outcome is actually a lose-lose because the conflict has not been resolved if one of you feels as though you have lost.
By practicing these conflict resolution skills, you will feel less hesitant to attend to conflicts when they arise. This willingness to deal with what comes at you in life increases your self-esteem as well as your confidence.
Copyright 2011 Lynn Borenius Brown
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