Conflict Resolution

Conflicts are something we usually associate with something negative. We associate it with fightig, war and conflicting opinions. In a stabe relationship it's not a problem to have two conflicting opinions or to simply disagree on something. The part that actually lets a conflict arise are our emotions, interpretations and evaluations. It's the way that we handle the conflict, perceive and treat the other person. We can be appreciative and still disagree on something or just enforce what we want on the cost of the other person.  

Once a conflict is started, it starts its own dynamic. One way to get out of it, is to acknowledge the other person's emotions and resolve whatever has built up on that level. Once this is taken care of, we can espace the conflict ladder and talk about the actual subject / object we seemed to be fighting about.

There are different types of people when it comes to conflict behavior. Everyone has their own strategy when a conflict comes up. Depending on who you are with or in which context you are in, you might choose different strategies. When we look for example at 'enforcement' we can see, that this strategy will get you what you want but you pay a price: you won't be able to maintain the (good) relationship with that person. 

Most of the times we settle on compromises. Looking at the graphics, you can tell that the compromise doesn't give you the best possible outcome and you also can't keep the relationship the way you had it. 

So how can we get to the win-win cooperation? 

1) Focus on the person
When you talk to someone about a topic that seems to be getting kind of hot: focus on the feelings and needs of the other person. It could be that the person didn't see himself represented in the process or not appreciated. If you notice something, directly bring it up. Otherwise the conversation will go in circles because it is not really about the subject anymore.

2) Find out what the other one really really wants
Many times, what we really really want is appreciation. E.g. Let's say you have a discussion around working hours. Is it about the working hours themselves or is it actually about fairness, appreciation and balance? It could even be about productivity and the concern of not being able to provide the best possible outcome in the fastest possible way because you are tired. Let the other person know about your thoughts directly. Find a common ground that you can base the discussion on. Maybe both of you want the best possible outcome and fairness.  

3) Don't make assumptions or interpretations
We are used to evaluate, judge and interpret things. When we see someone walking into a meeting three minutes after we started, we will say "you are late". This is a judgement. An interpretation could even be "you are a mean and thoughtless person who made us wait" or "you are respectless because you are stealing our time" or "you did that on purpose to show how powerful you are". A description would have been "you are walking into the meeting three minutes after the agreed starting time". Every interpretation, judgement or evaluation can harm our team members and the relationship we have - especially when we assume or conclude the "wrong" things (it doesn't match the ones the other person as). If you describe to the other person what happened and let them know how it impacted you, you lay the foundation for a fruitful conversation.