4.0 Module 301 : Conflict Management and Peace Building
4.2.9 Tips for Conflict Resolution
- Negotiate: Remain calm. Try not to overreact to difficult situations. By remaining calm it will be more likely that others will consider your viewpoint.
- Avoid ultimatums.
- If one loses, both lose.
- Establish common ground rules: You may even want to ask your partner-in-conflict to read and discuss these rules with you. When parties accept positive common ground rules for managing a conflict, resolution becomes much more likely.
- Say what you really mean (do not use generalities): Be specific about what is bothering you. Vague complaints are hard to work on. Don’t generalize. Avoid words, such as “never” or “always.” Don’t stockpile. Storing up lots of grievances and hurt feelings over time is counterproductive. It’s almost impossible to deal with numerous old problems for which interpretations may differ. Try to deal with problems as they arise.
- Avoid accusations and attacks: Accusations will cause others to defend themselves. Instead, talk about how someone’s actions made you feel.
- Own your own feelings first (“I” statements): Express feelings in words, not actions. Telling someone directly and honestly how you feel can be a very powerful form of communication.
- Always check out your perceptions. Avoid “make believe.” Exaggerating or inventing a complaint – or your feelings about it – will prevent the real issues from surfacing. Stick with the facts and your honest feelings.
- State your wishes and requests clearly and directly.
- Repeat the message you think you received.
- Refuse to fight dirty (name-calling, threats, etc.): Attacking areas of personal sensitivity creates an atmosphere of distrust, anger, and vulnerability.
- Resist giving the silent treatment: Avoid clamming up. When one person becomes silent and stops responding to the other, frustration and anger can result. Positive results can only be attained with two-way communication.
- Focus on the issue and focus on the present. Deal with only one issue at a time. Don’t introduce other topics until each is fully discussed. This avoids the “kitchen sink” effect where people throw in all their complaints while not allowing anything to be resolved.
- Take a short break: If you start to feel so angry or upset that you feel you may lose control, take a break and do something to help you feel steadier
take a walk, do some deep breathing, and do the dishes – whatever works for you.
- Use humor and comic relief, when possible
- Always look for closure: The Facilitator should review the tips with the participants and ask participants if they can provide any examples of experiences where these tips were used and conflict was averted or situations where one or more of these tips were not used, but if they did conflict could have been averted.