D. Charles Williams, Ph.D.
Conflict with others is an inevitable part of every organization, family or relationship. Most of us, however, do not like conflict because of the potential problems it can cause. Conflict resolution is a method used to alleviate disagreement by reducing the differences between people over a specific issue or event which involves their needs, values or goals.
The three types of conflict resolution styles that exist are: destructive conflict, conflict avoidance and constructive conflict.
Destructive conflict is confrontational, "below the belt" and typically results in resentment and a win-lose outcome.
Conflict avoidance gives the appearance of harmony or at best "agreeing to disagree." It always results in a "lose-lose" outcome because all parties are ultimately alienated from each other, yet they do not openly admit it.
Constructive conflict can be intense yet the intended outcome is "win-win." It requires mutual respect, give and take and a sense of "the big picture." Both parties must feel they have benefited from the negotiation. If you win the "battle and lose the war, ” what’s the point?
What are some effective ways to ensure a successful conflict resolution?
- Ask: "When is a good time to talk?"
- Decide on a neutral place to meet.
- Identify the issues from both parties.
- Establish common goals.
- Set ground rules (no blaming, no personal attacks, etc.)
- Agree to listen.
- Begin with points that you agree upon without passing judgement.
- Document what you have observed objectively.
- Identify what you are feeling but do not let your emotions sabotage the process.
- Settle one issue at a time.
- Strive for a win-win outcome.
Remember: People will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget the way you made them feel.