This article throws light upon the top twelve approaches to conflict resolution. The approaches are: 1. Win Win Approach 2. Creative Response 3. Empathy 4. Assertiveness 5. Cooperative Power 6. Managing Emotions 7. Willingness to Resolve 8. Mapping 9. Designing Options 10. Negotiation Skills 11. Third Party Mediators 12. Broadening Perspectives.
1. Win Win Approach:
The win-win approach is about changing the conflict from adversial attack and defence, to cooperation. It is a powerful shift of attitude that alters the whole course of communication.
When challenged, generally, we experience separateness, disconnectedness—a feeling of “you or me”—a sense that if one person is right, then the other must be wrong. The people battle over opposing solutions, “Do it my way”, “No that is not good”, the conflict is a power struggle.
But the Win/Win approach says:
“I want to win and I want you to win too”.
The important win/win manoeuvre can change course by beginning to discuss underlying needs rather than looking at solutions. This approach significantly alters the agenda on discussion table and places the right materials for cooperative problem solving.
This approach is successful as “IT WORKS” because in this case both people win and both are tied to the solution. They feel committed to the plan as it actually suits both of them. This approach is therefore a conflict resolution for mutual gain.
2. Creative Response:
Creative response to conflict is about turning problems into possibilities. It is about consciously choosing to see what can be done. It is affirming that you will choose to extract the best from the situation.
The philosophy behind this approach is that, life is about learning. A person who has gone “too far” knows just how far he can go. The essence is , “treat Conflict as an Opportunity”.
Empathy is about rapport and openness between people. In absence of empathy, the people are less likely to consider your needs and feelings. The best way to build empathy is to help the other person feel that they are understood-that means an active listener.
These may be following three situations:
In this situation, speaker should explain, what he wanted so that there is no confusion, and listener is expected to get the details, to check out and confirm what they are saying and find out about their needs, instructions, and background information. If necessary find out by asking questions and summarise, to make sure that you both agree on the facts.
In this, speaker talk about problem and listener acknowledge their feelings, to help them hear what they are saying and recognise that the other person would be helped by you taking time to hear their problem. In order to unfold the difficulty in more depth, explore the speaker in finding greater clarity and understanding. Here, remember that active listening builds relationship.
In this situation, speaker tell about the complaint and attack on you, whereas listener is expected to let them know that you have taken in what they are saying and to defuse the strong emotions. Do not defend yourself, when they are unhappy with you and criticising or complaining about you, as this will inflame them further. Here, it is desirable to deal first with their emotions by acknowledging their side- this does not mean you agrees with them.
At this juncture, use of following type of sentences help in defusing the emotions:
“I can see, if you think that was my attitude, why you are so angry”. I can see why the problem makes you so upset”. Then ask what could be done now to make it OK again. Keep on reflecting back as accurately as you can until they come down from the high emotion. As the interchange continues the heat should be going out of the conversation.
The essence of Appropriate Assertiveness is being able to state your case without arousing the defenses of the other person. In order to state your point of view assertively, use “I” statement formula. An “I” statement says how it is on my side, how I see it i.e. you need to let the other person know that you are feeling strongly about the issue. “I” statement should not look like polite or soft nor should it be rude. Such a statement is a conversation opener, nor the resolution i.e. for improving rather than deteriorating relationships.
The best “I” statement is free of expectations; it is delivering a clean, clear statement of how it is from your side and how you would like it to be.
5. Cooperative Power:
When faced with a statement which creates conflict or has a potential to create conflict, it is advisable to ask open questions to reframe resistance. These questions are directed to have discussion to focus on positive possibilities so as to explore by clarifying the details, finding options, redirecting and going back to understand legitimate needs and concerns.
6. Managing Emotions:
When you are angry/hurt/frightened, ask yourself:
(i) Why am I feeling so angry/hurt/frightened?
(ii) What do I want to change?
(iii) What do I need so as to let go of this feelings?
(iv) Whose problem is this, really? How much is mine? How much is theirs?
(v) What is unspoken message I infer from the situation?
In such circumstances, following should be considered:
(i) Avoid desire to punish or blame.
(ii) Aim to improve the situation.
(iii) Communicate your feelings appropriately.
(iv) Improve the relationship and increase communication.
(v) Avoid repeating the same situation.
7. Willingness to Resolve:
Conflict should be treated as opportunity and our attitude should be such that, the more some- one inflames me, angers or upset me, the more I should learn something about myself from that person.
As the thoughts and feelings in the minds and the behaviours of other is the projection of my own thoughts and actions. We see that X is angry with us and we feel hurt, but we do not recognise that we are angry with X and would like to hurt X.
Therefore, in order to see reality, greater self-awareness is necessary. As it is possible that actions or emotions of mine are causing anger in other person as reaction. Sometimes my conscious or unconscious desires, wants, feelings, intentions, beliefs and dislikes might be the cause of conflict. Therefore, in order to resolve the conflict, I should be willing to recognise these facts.
i. Define briefly the issue, the problem area, or conflict in neutral terms that all would agree.
ii. Write down each person’s or group’s concerns, fears or anxieties.
iii. Be preparing to change the statement of the issue, as your understanding of it evolves through discussion or to draw up other maps of related issues that arise.
9. Designing Options:
i. Understand the problem by breaking the problem into smaller parts; collect more information and constraints; and outcome we want.
ii. Search for solutions through brainstorming, consensus and lateral thinking.
iii. Adopt negotiating tools and skills
iv. Select a best option as solution which is based on win/win approach; meet many needs of all parties; fair and feasible; solve the problem.
10. Negotiation Skills:
Basic principles for negotiation are:
i. Be hard on the problem and soft on the person.
ii. Focus on needs, not positions
iii. Emphasise common ground.
iv. Be inventive about options.
v. Make clear agreements.
During negotiation care should be taken:
i. By responding not reacting i.e., managing emotions, let some accusations, attacks, threats or ultimatum pass.
ii. By refocusing on the issue, dividing the issue into parts and addressing less difficult aspects first.
iii. Identify unfair tactics and address the motive for using the tactic by having a break; changing locations, seating arrangements etc.; going into smaller groups, meat privately; and call for meeting to end now and resuming later.
11. Third Party Mediators:
Following steps should be followed in mediation:
Overview to understand matter by allowing each person to express their view of the conflict, the issues and their feelings.
While going into details, map the needs and conflicts, clarify misconceptions and identify other relevant issues.
Identify areas of agreement; encourage willingness to move forward; focus on future action; develop options.
Plan for the future; contracting; decide time to review agreement.
12. Broadening Perspectives:
We all have distinctive view points and each person’s view point makes a contribution to the whole and requires consideration and respect in order to form a complete solution.
Consider how the problem or the relationships will look over a long term time frame considering the overall system.
By taking a broader perspective you may be confronted with the enormity of the difficulties, but one step forward changes the dynamics and new possibilities can open up.