Understanding Conflict Part 2: Resolution

Once a conflict is identified, then it is time to move towards resolution. This often requires a little bit of practice. Going in with a level head and a plan are the keys toward success. If emotional about the subject, we know it’s best to take a few minutes to allow ourselves to calm down. It is also important to go in with the intention of hearing both sides of the issue, and not necessarily to just getting our own thoughts out there. Most of the time, the other person has a good reason they feel the way they do, and it is important to both respect and trust that. Even if their reasons are built upon a misunderstanding, it is important to go in with an open mind to figure out what it is and how to resolve it.

It takes the use of several parts of our brain in order to clear the air. While conflict is often complex, lowering defenses and reaching resolution can be far more intricate. Below is a somewhat simplified roadmap using methods from Emergenetics.

  1. Start with social brain- Claim our feelings. Using an “I” message: “I am concerned about this situation.”
  2. Move to analytical brain- Provide a report of the situation. Focus on accuracy over emotion. Simply put, the aim here is consensus about the situation.
  3. Move to conceptual brain- Create solutions by brainstorming options. This step ensures everyone participates in finding a solution so no one feels left out.
  4. End with structural brain- After brainstorming solutions, we can then get organized by selecting the best one for the problem, determining the next steps and establishing a time frame.

This process fits hand-in-hand with Marshall Rosenberg’s four-part Nonviolent Communication Process. This process was designed to help guide us to express how we are and it works just as effectively to empathically receive how another is. Rosenberg recommends asking questions like the following:

  • What do I/you observe that does not contribute to our well-being?
  • How do I/you feel in relation to this observation?
  • What do I/you need or value that causes the feelings?
  • What are the concrete actions I/you would like taken?

Combining these two methods helps us get to the source of the conflict and start achieving resolution. Though it is not something that most people look forward to, conflict resolution is something that almost every manager in the world will have to deal with. Becoming good at identifying and resolving conflict will create a stronger, more effective work environment that will improve employee job satisfaction and productivity. It really is a skill we all must have.

Browning, Gail. Tap into the New Science of Success: Emergenetics. New York, NY: HarperCollins. Print
Dana, Daniel. Conflict Resolution. New York, NY: The McGraw Hill Companies, Inc. 2001. Print.
Rosenberg, Marshall. nonviolentcommunication.com. Puddle Dancer Press, 2009. Web. 2 Nov. 2012.

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