Conflict is an unavoidable aspect of life, and one which helps us to develop key skills in the arts of emphasizing, listening and negotiation. While the majority of media attention seems to focus on workplace conflicts, such as the current dispute between Walmart and its striking employees, the techniques for achieving resolution can be applied in various circumstances.
Whether you are dealing with a personal conflict with a loved one or a workplace dispute, it is crucial that you apply a core set of skills if you are going to resolve conflicts. With this in mind, consider the following advice for managing conflicts, understanding alternative viewpoints, and arriving at a mutually agreeable compromise:
1. Lay the foundations of agreement.
In any conflict, a potential resolution is built on the foundations of agreement. These are, essentially, the fundamental points on which warring factions agree, and they will often underpin any eventual compromise or settlement. They also ease the subsequent process of resolving an existing dispute, as each individual understands that they share at least some common ground with their rivals.
2. Understand that resolution is for the good of everyone concerned in the dispute.
With the foundations of agreement established, the next step is to understand the importance of achieving a mutually convenient resolution. It is all too easy for people to become lost in their own beliefs and values during the course of negotiations, and this will only cause them to adopt a more stubborn and inflexible stance. By reinforcing that consensus on an outcome is for the good of everyone involved in the dispute, you can ensure that each party maintains a balanced point of view.
3. Deal in fact and avoid indulging your ego.
Ego can often be the single biggest barrier to conflict resolution, as it prevents individuals from listening to reason and taking on board alternative points of view. It is therefore crucial that you speak from wisdom and deal in facts when forwarding your argument, rather than becoming emotive and allowing your ego to dictate your communication style. The use of facts also minimizes the risk of creating further dispute, as they cannot be contradicted and provide valid support for your arguments.
4. Listen to others and ensure that everyone has an opportunity to speak.
On a similar note, it is imperative that you listen to others during the phase of conflict resolution, and ensure that every single party has an opportunity to speak. Not only will this help you to understand alternative viewpoints and make an agreeable compromise seem more achievable, but it also ensures that everyone involved has expressed their views openly. Sometimes people just want to be heard, and denying them this opportunity can cause frustration and distract them from their overall objectives in the negotiation.
5. Empathize and consider every alternative point of view.
Another critical skill required to achieve a compromise is the ability to empathize, as without this it is impossible to let others challenge your point of view. If you can empathize with all other parties and develop a genuine understanding of their arguments and circumstances, it is far easier to adapt your own point of view and move closer towards a compromise. If an alternative argument or point of view leads you to believe that you have been wrong or that your views were misplaced, you should not be afraid of sharing this and taking responsibility for your mistakes.
6. Understand the power of the English language and use words carefully.
The English language is a powerful tool in the pursuit of conflict resolution, and the use of specific words and phrases will have a direct impact on the achievement of both individual and common goals. Phrases such as, “Yes, I understand,” and, “I see what you mean,” offer positive reassurances to rival parties, while also validating their point of view. You should avoid using words such as “No,” for example, while also stopping short of suggesting that anyone is wrong or misguided in their opinion.
7. Act quickly in the event of verbal abuse or physical aggression.
Even if your negotiations have been progressing serenely, human nature dictates that emotion can take hold at any given time. This means that explosive arguments can develop at any moment, leading to instances or verbal abuse or physical aggression that completely undermine the goals you are trying to achieve. It is crucial that you are able to identify the signs of rising tension or anger before they manifest themselves into direct action, so that you can begin to mediate and suggest that the group takes a break from the negotiation.
The bottom line.
While these tips may be relatively simple to understand, they are not easy to follow through the course of conflict and heated discussion. You must therefore adopt a proactive approach towards pursuing conflict resolution, and ensure that every single party understands the need for compromise prior to entering into negotiations.
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