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This WAC Communication Model Can Help You Resolve Conflicts Instantly

This WAC Communication Model Can Help You Resolve Conflicts Instantly

Conflict doesn’t care if you are a vocal person or one who values harmony, it will come to you almost every single day — at home, at work, on the streets, even online. For people we know, it’s easier to communicate and resolve the conflict; but for strangers, we usually shut our mouths and let our anger pile up inside.

But what should we do when someone keeps bugging us? There are usually two routes we take: either avoid direct confrontation or confront violently. The longer we remain in the avoidance state, the more anger we pent up. At the same time, the latter doesn’t do anything apart from allowing us to vent. As far as I’m concerned, both solutions aren’t the healthiest for us.

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You may think: man, it’s hard to raise the conflict and confront someone.

We are worried of the possible consequences after a confrontation, especially facing strangers. Business Communications and Etiquette Coach Barbara Pachter has the solution to these sticky situations and confront others face-on.

In her book The Power of Positive Confrontation, she introduces the WAC model[1] — What, Ask, Check in — to teach people how to resolve conflict in a fast second. She points out the main mistake people makes in conflicts is retaliating instead of responding to the problem, which creates more tension between two parties. So here is how the WAC model works:

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1. What

The first step to resolve conflict is to identify the root of your agitation. Focus on one incident that bothers you and start from there. Avoid using words like “always” or “never”, and simply describe your concern without blaming or criticizing the action of the opposing person.

2. Ask

After you have clearly and logically raised the conflict, ask the person kindly of what you want them to do. Make sure you are clear with your request, if not, you are giving the other person to chime in and redirect the conversation to his/her favor.

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3. Check in

The last part of this model is to check in on the other person’s reaction, and the conversation usually ends with a question like “do you agree” or “is that okay for you”.

Stay calm, cool, and collected.

With the WAC model, there are some other pointers for you to perfectly execute a positive confrontation. It is so important to pick the right time and space. If someone is rushing to get to somewhere, or someone is in an emotional state already, it doesn’t hurt to wait for a while. You also have to make sure you are in the right headspace and mood when you confront others.

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So how do you actually confront positively?

Let’s take a simple workplace conflict to demonstrate — Your co-worker always takes stuffs and puts them everywhere, and it’s hard for you to find the things you need. With the WAC model, you can talk to him/her like this: “(What) It might not be a big deal for you, but when I need something at the office, I couldn’t find it. (Ask) I hope you could put things back in place after using them. (Check in) Is it okay?”

Does it really work though?

It seems to be so complex with so many steps and considerations. But with the WAC model, when you slightly change the tone and the words you use in conversations, it greatly affects the listener’s reception. Confronting without putting blame on the other person produces a much more positive outcome, which puts you and the other person at ease.

Of course, learning a new skill needs time. Start with simple situations to handle first, and build your confidence to take on more complicated conflicts. Over time, you have no fear facing tricky people and master the skill of positive confrontation.

Reference

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Frank Yung

Writer. Storyteller. Foodie.

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

The Secret to Effective Conflict Resolution: The IBR Approach

In business, in social relationships, in family… In whatever context conflict is always inevitable, especially when you are in the leader role. This role equals “make decisions for the best of majority” and the remaining are not amused. Conflicts arise.

Conflicts arise when we want to push for a better quality work but some members want to take a break from work.

Conflicts arise when we as citizens want more recreational facilities but the Government has to balance the needs to maintain tourism growth.

Conflicts are literally everywhere.

Avoiding Conflicts a No-No and Resolving Conflicts a Win-Win

Avoiding conflicts seem to be a viable option for us. The cruel fact is, it isn’t. Conflicts won’t walk away by themselves. They will, instead, escalate and haunt you back even more when we finally realize that’s no way we can let it be.

Moreover, avoiding conflicts will eventually intensify the misunderstanding among the involved parties. And the misunderstanding severely hinders open communication which later on the parties tend to keep things secret. This is obviously detrimental to teamwork.

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Some may view conflicts as the last step before arguments. And they thus leave it aside as if they never happen. This is not true.

Conflicts are the intersect point between different individuals with different opinions. And this does not necessarily lead to argument.

Instead, proper handling of conflicts can actually result in a win-win situation – both parties are pleased and allies are gained. A better understanding between each other and future conflicts are less likely to happen.

The IBR Approach to Resolve Conflicts

Here, we introduce to you an effective approach to resolve conflicts – the Interest-Based Relational (IBR) approach. The IBR approach was developed by Roger Fisher and William Ury in their 1981 book Getting to Yes. It stresses the importance of the separation between people and their emotions from the problem. Another focus of the approach is to build mutual understanding and respect as they strengthen bonds among parties and can ultimately help resolve conflicts in a harmonious way. The approach suggests a 6-step procedure for conflict resolution:

Step 1: Prioritize Good Relationships

How? Before addressing the problem or even starting the discussion, make it clear the conflict can result in a mutual trouble and through subsequent respectful negotiation the conflict can be resolved peacefully. And that brings the best outcome to the whole team by working together.

Why? It is easy to overlook own cause of the conflict and point the finger to the members with different opinions. With such a mindset, it is likely to blame rather than to listen to the others and fail to acknowledge the problem completely. Such a discussion manner will undermine the good relationships among the members and aggravate the problem.

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Example: Before discussion, stress that the problem is never one’s complete fault. Everyone is responsible for it. Then, it is important to point out our own involvement in the problem and state clearly we are here to listen to everyone’s opinions rather than accusing others.

Step 2: People Are NOT the Cause of Problem

How? State clearly the problem is never one-sided. Collaborative effort is needed. More importantly, note the problem should not be taken personally. We are not making accusations on persons but addressing the problem itself.

Why? Once things taken personally, everything will go out of control. People will become irrational and neglect others’ opinions. We are then unable to address the problem properly because we cannot grasp a fuller and clearer picture of the problem due to presumption.

Example: In spite of the confronting opinions, we have to emphasize that the problem is not a result of the persons but probably the different perspectives to view it. So, if we try to look at the problem from the other’s perspective, we may understand why there are varied opinions.

Step 3: Listen From ALL Stances

How? Do NOT blame others. It is of utmost importance. Ask for everyone’s opinions. It is important to let everyone feel that they contribute to the discussion. Tell them their involvement is essential to solve the problem and their effort is very much appreciated.

Why? None wants to be ignored. If one feels neglected, it is very likely for he/she to be aggressive. It is definitely not what we hope to see in a discussion. Acknowledging and being acknowledged are equally important. So, make sure everyone has equal opportunity to express their views. Also, realizing their opinions are not neglected, they will be more receptive to other opinions.

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Example: A little trick can played here: Invite others to talk first. It is an easy way to let others feel involved and ,more importantly, know their voices are heard. Also, we can show that we are actively listening to them by giving direct eye-contact and nodding. One important to note is that never interrupt anyone. Always let them finish first beforeanother one begins.

Step 4: Listen Comes First, Talk Follows

How? Ensure everyone has listened to one another points of view. It can be done by taking turn to speak and leaving the discussion part at last. State once again the problem is nothing personal and no accusation should be made.

Why? By turn-taking, everyone can finish talking and voices of all sides can be heard indiscriminantly. This can promote willingness to listen to opposing opinions.

Example: We can prepare pieces of paper with different numbers written on them. Then, ask different members to pick one and talk according to the sequence of the number. After everyone’s finished, advise everyone to use “I” more than “You” in the discussion period to avoid others thinking that it is an accusation.

Step 5: Understand the Facts, Then Address the Problem

How? List out ALL the facts first. Ask everyone to tell what they know about the problems.

Why? Sometimes your facts are unknown to the others while they may know something we don’t. Missing out on these facts could possibly lead to inaccurate capture of the problem. Also, different known facts can lead to different perception of the matter. It also helps everyone better understand the problem and can eventually help reach a solution.

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Example: While everyone is expressing their own views, ask them to write down everything they know that is true to the problem. As soon as everyone has finished, all facts can be noted and everyone’s understanding of the problem is raised.

Step 6: Solve the Problem Together

How? Knowing what everyone’s thinking, it is now time to resolve the conflict. Up to this point, everyone should have understood the problem better. So, it is everyone’s time to suggest some solutions. It is important not to have one giving all the solutions.

Why? Having everyone suggesting their solutions is important as they will not feel excluded and their opinions are considered. Besides, it may also generate more solutions that can better resolve the conflicts. Everyone will more likely be satisfied with the result.

Example: After discussion, ask all members to suggest any possible solutions and stress that all solutions are welcomed. State clearly that we are looking for the best outcomes for everyone’s sake rather than battling to win over one another. Then, evaluate all the solutions and pick the one that is in favor of everyone.

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