Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stages of Healthy Conflict Resolution.

Post 365 - Start by identifying the problem or the issue together with the preferred outcomes.

• In this initial stage, you say what you want and you listen to what the other person wants so everyone understands what's at stake. When you speak, use “I messages” and avoid the “blaming” messages. Also use active listening when paying attention to the other person’s point of view.

• The next brainstorming stage is to generate several possible solutions. Drawing on the things you both agree on and your shared goals and interests, look for several possible alternatives that might resolve the disagreement. Avoid evaluating and judging until it looks like no more ideas are forthcoming.

• Then evaluate each suggested solution and eliminate those that aren't acceptable to either party. Keep narrowing them down until you have just one or two that seem to best fit the situation. During this stage, both parties must be totally honest with each other and willing to say things like, "I wouldn’t be happy with that," or "I don’t think that would be fair for me."

• Now, select the alternative that's mutually acceptable to both of you. Make certain there's a mutual commitment to this decision.

• It's one thing to arrive at a decision, but it's another thing to carry it out. So it's important to talk about how it's going to be implemented, specifying who's responsible to do what and by when.

• Not all mutually agreed upon solutions turn out to be as good as initially expected. Arrange for the parties involved to routinely evaluate how the solution is working and how they feel about it. Something unexpected may have occurred or something may have been overlooked or misjudged. From the beginning, help both parties understand that decisions are always open for revision, but modifications have to be mutually agreed on in the same manner as the initial decision.

Here are some common mistakes:

- Not discussing with the other person the method used to resolve the conflicts.

- Discovering too late that more information was needed.

- Being too focused on getting your own way, or making extreme demands, and therefore not being flexible enough to be fair with others.

- Forgetting that there are usually several ways to do something. Your own reality isn’t the only reality. You’ll be much more effective if you’re willing to see the other person’s point of view.

- Focusing too much on what you could lose and not enough on what you both could gain.

- Believing the other person must lose for you to win.

- Bringing up additional issues before resolving the one that got you started.

If you both stay true to each other and true to yourselves, working together to resolve your disagreements will help you maintain a healthy relationship.

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