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Conflict Management

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What is Conflict?

  • It is a process that begins when one party perceives that another party has a Negative Affect or is about to Negatively Affect something that the First Party cares about.
  • Conflict is Disagreement, but contrary to popular belief conflict does not necessarily involve Fighting.

What is Conflict Resolution?

  • Conflict resolution is the process of trying to find a solution to conflict.
  • Ideally conflict resolution is collaborative problem-solving, a cooperative talking-together process that leads to choosing a plan of action that both of you feel good about.

How can you tell when there is a conflict afoot?

  • When people sense disagreement, they tend to feel uncomfortable. Discomfort, that is, slightly negative emotions, alert you to the reality that a situation of conflict is occurring.
  • That is, one person wants, thinks or does one thing, and another has a different perspective or prefers a different course of action.
  • Decisions therefore are one danger point. Any time two people need to pick a shared course of action they are at risk for experiencing conflict.
  • Seeing things differently can also provoke conflict. Fortunately, there are ways to disagree that prevent conflicts from emerging in these situations.

5 pathways of conflict resolution

When Conflict occurs, participants have the following options.

  • Only ONE of these options leaves both participants feeling good.
  • The other four create BAD feelings, and have a Corrosive Impact on relationships and well-being.
Collaborative Resolution
  • Talking together can bring a disagreement out in the open in a friendly manner so that both parties understand each others concerns and then can conclude by finding a mutual agreeable solution.
  • This process is the GOLD STANDARD for what people generally aim for when they talk about Conflict Resolution.
  • Participants bicker, get mad and even fight about whose way will win, bulling their way to a solution via coercive over-powering.
  • Participants avoid a potentially hurtful fight by giving up on getting what they want, ending the disagreement with the by-product of one person feeling sad and depressed.
  • Participants flee by self-distraction, escaping from dealing with the dilemma by busying themselves with some other activity like an addiction or obsessive habit.
  • Participants become immobilized in anxiety and tension by staying aware of the problem and at the same time not talking about it.

3 steps of collaborative resolution

  • A synonym for conflict resolution is shared problem-solving. The word shared implies cooperation.
  • For the process to work, participants need to stay collaborative, like they are sitting on the same side of the table facing the problem, never flipping into oppositional or hostile stances toward each other. 
Step 1: Recognition of a Problem that Needs to be Solved
  • To begin a process of conflict resolution you need to recognize that a conflict exists.
  • Sometimes that`s the hardest time to stay in a positive tone of voice.
  • So, if you feel yourself becoming tense or irritable, instead of continuing in a bickering mode, pause and say to yourself, “Here`s an opportunity to use my new skills. My irritation indicates that there`s a conflict here!
Step 2: Explore Underlying Concerns
  • This step requires a change from looking at possible solutions to exploring the underlying concerns that your initial suggestions had been meant to accomplish.
  • Solutions are plans of action.
  • Concerns are underlying desires, fears, and other factors that matter to you in a given situations.
Step 3: Find A Mutually Agreeable Solution
  • Agreement and resolution come when the two people involved in a conflict create a plan of action that includes ways to meet the underlying concerns of both parties.
  • You need to work towards a win-win solution, not because one or both of them “got their way” but rather because the plan of action was responsive to the underlying concerns of both.

Pitfall Areas to avoid

Area 1
  • One person may never say what they want. One may present their suggestion as a criticism instead of a request. And one side (or both) may not listen to the other.
  • Not saying, not speaking up about what you want, will block launching a satisfactory process.
  • If no one, or only one and not the other, says what they want, a collaborative conflict resolution process gets aborted.
  • At the same time, saying what you dont want or launching the discussion in a critical way also risks veering the conversation off the cooperative pathways.
  • Listening also is essential for the process to move forward. Listening effectively requires an attitude of taking the other person’s perspective and concerns seriously.
  • Tone is also vitally important
  • Both sides must express their initial desire or thought, laying out the wishes in a positive (“I would like to…”) not negative (“You never….”).
  • Both sides need to listen like sponges. Listen to absorb and understand rather than to criticize and brush aside the other’s point of view
Area 2
  • Requires commitment to a process of Discovery
  • The goal is to find out what factors are necessary to find a solution that pleases both sides.
  • If either person is interested in WINNING instead of in learning each other`s concerns for the benefit of both of you, the process will abort.
  • Similarly, if either party listens to the other with a goal of proving “I am right, and you are wrong” the discussion will turn turbinate and then end prematurely.
  • The impulse to win by causing the other to lose is like boulders in a stream of water; it blocks the flow and causes turbulence.
  • It also requires the ability to explore a problem in depth instead of leaping to an immediate solution.
  • You need to look below the surface, to ask yourselves why do I want this?
  • Both sides must express their underlying concerns; and both sides must listen thoughtfully to the other`s concerns.
Area 3
  • Thinking needs to be open, so that new solutions, solutions that meet both people`s primary concerns, can be discovered.
  • Both people must remain open to a new plan rather than attached to their first idea.
  • Lastly, no one gets to suggest what the other person should do.
  • Instead, participants each need to focus on what they themselves might be willing to offer toward a total plan of action.






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