The Zone - Volume 110
Can you get positive results from a conflict?
As we move toward more “face to face” conferences and trainings, we are receiving more requests for conflict resolution programming. Thinking about why this topic is on the minds of many individuals and organizations may reflect a level of impatience and frustration among employees.
Conflict can be defined as the struggle that results from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes or demands. It usually occurs when someone believes that his or her rights have been denied. It also usually starts with a disagreement and it can be a symptom of a larger problem that needs to be addressed. In addition, there are three dimensions to any conflict; the issue itself, the personal level and the interpersonal level.
Some of the causes of conflict may include:
Ethnic and cultural differences
Different goals and/or objectives
Overlapping responsibilities or boundaries
Environment not feeling inclusive
Lack of Trust
Competition of limited resources
What can one do to be part of the solution in a conflict? First, it is important to create an environment that allows for possible resolution. Next, keeping a level head and maintaining a stance of listening rather than talking and thinking you know all the answers. Thirdly, try to hear what the other person is saying and not judging her or his responses. Realizing that the conflict includes both of you, and perhaps others, and that both of you have much to gain or lose concerning a resolution. Finally, have a back-and-forth discussion until you find the points where agreement is found. These points of agreement may offer the foundation for a solution to the conflict. Additionally, sometimes it may be necessary to seek a neutral party to mediate a possible solution.
An example that we have been involved with, in our individual practices, involved an obese child of divorced parents. Upon the recommendation of the child’s medical doctor the family sought help. The parents were having a conflict regarding the best approach to handling their child’s weight. One parents’ home was void of junk food and was filled with what is typically considered healthy foods. The other parents’ home was filled with junk food and trips to fast food establishments were daily. Both parents believed that the other was being irresponsible, and the result was the child became the ping pong ball between households. Through meeting with the parents jointly and discussing how this conflict was negatively impacting their child, they were able to come to a point of agreement whereby they both wanted the best for their child. They came to this point in their process by realizing that if they did not resolve their conflict their childs’ health would become further compromised.
While the process of resolving conflicts can be exhausting, frustrating and time consuming, the results can be life changing and enhancing.
Conflict is natural, it is neither positive nor negative, it just is.
Finding points of agreement are critical to the process of resolution.
To keeping a level head, you need to be aware of your trigger points.
Become aware of the causes of the conflict that you are involved in.
Become aware of each party’s needs, values, beliefs and desires and how they may differ from yours.
Be willing to seek external assistance if necessary.
Things to Limit
Thinking that you know all the answers.
Quote of the Week
“Conflict in and of itself is not a negative experience…It is how we choose to respond to conflict that determines whether its effect will be positive or negative…Instead of believing that we know all the answers, we embrace curiosity.” ~The Tao of Negotiation
In summary, the aim of resolving any conflict should not be about who wins and who loses, but rather about growth and producing a better tomorrow.
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The paraDocs are Dr. Francis L. Battisti, PhD, Psychotherapist, Distinguished Psychology Professor and former Executive V.P and Chief Academic Officer and Dr. Helen E. Battisti PhD, RDN, CDN, Chief Nutrition Officer, at SpNOD, Health Promotion Specialist, Research and Clinical Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and former Assistant Professor.
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