What is Conflict Resolution?

  1. It's a way to settle disagreements (conflicts) peacefully by getting to the root of the problems and finding lasting solutions.
  2. It means working things out:
    • Without violence, name-calling or hurting the feelings of others
    • Without running away from difficult situations
    • Without going against your feelings or beliefs
    • Why Should I Learn About Conflict Resolution?

Even with the best intentions, you and others may have different opinions and ideas on matters. This may lead to a conflict situation where both of you feel angry, upset, misunderstood or helpless.

What does it take to cause a conflict?

  1. People - A conflict can occur between 2 people, or between 2 groups of people. It can occur when you're at home, college, work or out socializing.
  2. Different points of view - This usually means that each person or group:
    • sees a situation in a different way
    • wants a different outcome
    • has different ideas about what to do
  3. Feelings - Individuals or groups may have very strong feelings about the problem or situation. For example, they may feel:
    • Angry
    • Jealous
    • Lonely
    • Cheated
    • Scared
    • Frustrated
    • Disappointed

How do I resolve conflict so that I may continue with relationship in an effective way?

  1. Choose a time and place - Both parties need to be able to focus their full attention on the problem without being rushed or distracted. Neither party should feel that they are at a disadvantage because they are "in the other person's territory." By making an "appointment" for a future date, both parties would have time to prepare.
  2. Agree on ground rules and the process to be followed:
    • Suggested Ground Rules
    • Use "I" statements, in other words start sentences with an "I"......
    • Own the real issue - what this means for you rather than just blaming or reacting.
    • Be respectful - no abuse, ridicule, sarcasm, put downs or personal comments.
    • Stick to the agreed conflict resolution process.
      • We agree on ground rules
      • I talk - you listen
      • You tell me what you heard
      • We agree about what I said
      • You talk - I listen
      • I tell you what I heard
      • We agree about what you said
      • We've identified the problem
      • We both suggest solutions
      • We agree on a solution
  3. Before the meeting, prepare your points of discussion:
    • Ask the opinion of others
    • Present your opinions to them for clarification - don't just look for justification of your opinions.
    • Rehearse what you want to say, try it out on a friend.
  4. During the process use constructive problem solving methods:
    • Do not blame, but by identifying the problem as a joint issue rather than belonging to only one party - or worse - that party being the problem; this will help to keep the focus on solving the problem.
    • It may be helpful to write the problem down - seeing it in black and white helps.
    • Try and keep feelings and opinions separate from "fact."
    • Make sure both parties are satisfied with the problem definition before moving on (otherwise you may exacerbate confusion).
  5. Acknowledge your feelings - It will keep the focus on the issue and minimize confusion if you are clear and honest about your feelings. Hopefully this will help the other person to be clear about their feelings too.
  6. Acknowledge the other person's feelings - You may not feel the same or understand them, but they have a right to their feelings too.
  7. Clearly present your points of discussion
  8. Listen to the other person's point of view
    • Don't interrupt. Let them finish (This will help them to listen to you).
    • Check to make sure you've understood what they are saying. Sometimes conflict turns out to be a lack of clear communication rather than different opinions!
  9. Clarify differences
    • Identify clearly where the differences are and whether there is disagreement about facts or opinions.
    • You may need to repeat your perspective and give the other person an opportunity to do the same before clarity is reached. Try not to get side tracked into other issues.
    • It is often helpful to refer back to the problem set by both parties. Decide on what outcomes you and the other party want.
    • State clearly what you would like to happen from here.
    • Listen to what the other person would like.
    • Try and find a solution that would work for both of you.
    • Sometimes by being prepared to accommodate the other person by adapting or compromising, it gives them the freedom to do something reciprocal.
    • Remember there may be solutions which work as well, or better, than your original idea.
  10. What to do when no solution can be found:
    • You can agree to disagree
    • You can refer the problem to a 3rd party mutually agreed upon (e.g., an independent mediator or facilitator)
  11. Evaluating the Situation
    • What was the agreed outcome?
    • What worked and what would you do differently next time?