Basic 10 Steps Conflict Resolution Method
Consider the following basic conflict resolution steps. You may already use some of them. Which of these steps, if any have you been leaving out?
- Find OK-ness within yourself. Take a few deep breaths or whatever you need to be OK prior to attempting to resolve conflicts. You want to make sure that you are functioning our of the evolved brain in order to be reasonable, rational and logical.
- Recognize Conflict Issues. Healthy people do not want to look for conflicts. However, when a problem goes arise, you will find it useful to accept the problem as an opportunity to seek understanding of yourself and each other. This of it as a time for growth. Each person’s attitude toward the conflict issues will influence the creation of a solution.
- Select an appropriate time and place to discuss the issues. You need to select a time and place that will allow for adequate understanding and mutual effort in the resolution process. When one person is tired, emotionally upset, uncomfortable in a public place, or is rushed for time, you will be better off postponing the process until conditions are better.
- Treat each other with respect. Both people need to recognize that respect is conveyed by behavior. The way people look at each other, select their words, and listen, as well as their tone of voice and reasoning approach, communicates respect or disrespect. In the midst of conflict, angry emotions often turn to name calling or verbal attacks on the other’s character. There is a descending emotional force that tends to move the level of communication toward labeling the other person. Talking to each other or past each other can become the rule, rather than talking with each other. An act of willpower may be required to resist the forces pulling you toward disrespect. People can use self-talk, for example, “I will not get pulled down.” The assertion of a moral decision to treat the other person as a person worthy of respect is required or communication will become no longer creative.
- Listen carefully. When feelings are very strong and creative communication is difficult, people are inclined to mis-communicate and misunderstand. Thought, feelings, and needs of both people must be heard and understood. When people truly listen to each other carefully, they begin to notice that they take each other seriously. Reflective listening is a helpful tool for conflict resolution in couples. Here’s how it works: The other person says something. They can speak up for yourself only after restating the other person’s ideas and feelings, to his or her satisfaction. After you respond to their statement, he or she then restates what you just said, to your satisfaction, before responding. Concentrate especially on reflecting back feelings.
- Focus on feelings. The key to conflict resolution is to attend to the emotions first. Try to understand what emotions the other person is expressing. There will be no resolution until both people know that the other understands their feelings regarding the issue. Listen until you experience the other side. It is not enough to simply hear each other’s emotions. The feelings need to be understood and accepted. If this step is skipped, there is unlikely to be a real resolution.
- Verbalize the Conflict Issues. First each person must get in touch with his or her own thoughts, needs, and feelings. When one person is in the presence of the other’s anger, there can often be a good deal of anxiety or panic. This may also be the case with one’s one anger as well. The anxiety needs to be managed. State your point of view briefly! Long and drawn out will agitate the other person and may just be an expression of your anxiety. Be careful with loaded words! Words can be pillows or prods, comforts or bullets. But be real with your person. It is not helpful to withhold important information or talk about one thing when the real issue is another. State what you believe without going to the extreme. Tell your feelings! If you are angry or resentful, say that you are angry or resentful, or you have a lot of feelings about the subject under discussion. Until emotional issues are acknowledged, the substantive issues ill probably not be resolved. Communicate what the truth is for you. Look for the connection between the problem as you see it and the underlying basic psychological need from which it might have risen. How does each person define the problem? What behaviors do each contribute to the conflict? What are the issues of agreement and disagreement in this conflict? Both people must ask and understand these questions.
- Identify your share of the problem. Relationship conflict by definition means “we” have a problem. As each person accepts some responsibility for the problem, both notice a willingness to cooperate and will much more likely be open to the discussion. Here are some helpful suggestions for talking with the other person.
- Choose one word to describe what you want to talk about, like “spending”. Now state the word or subject that you want to talk about in one compete sentence, like “I’m worried that we’re spending more than we can afford on Christmas the year.” Be precise and specific. Try not to blame, ridicule or attack, and do not overload each other with too much information all at once. Take responsibility for the problem, and tell them the reason that you are bringing the matter up for discussion. For example, “I have a problem. It is a little difficult for me to talk about, but our relationship is very important to me, and by talking about it I think that we will have a better one. I think ____________ is the problem, and _____________ is what I am contributing to the problem. I would like to hear what you think and feel about it.”
- Statements like this one are a healthy way of expressing potentially charged conflicts. If your person approaches you in this manner, respond by saying, “Thank you for telling me. If I understand correctly, you think the problem is_____________. I can understand that you think _____________.” Restate the problem to make sure you have correctly understood the other. Conflicts may be the result of a specific behavior of the other person. Take, for example, a situation in which one person does not pick up after himself or herself. The other person may give this type of response: “I’ve asked you a thousand times to pick up your things! You couldn’t be this way at work or your boss would fire you. I’m not picking up after you anymore! What kind of a role model are you for he kids?”
- Compare that example to the person who selects an appropriate time and approaches the other by saying: “I have a problem, and I need to talk to you about it, because it involves our relationship. Maybe I have not told you my real feelings, but I am bothered by our differences in keeping the house neat. I would feel more accepting of you and less resentful if I felt you were picking up your clothes in the morning before you go to work. If this were done, I would feel better and actually have more time to make the kids’ lunches.” Wait for a response.
- Recognize and optional solutions. People have named their own contributions to a problem or conflict; it becomes clear that a behavioral change from one or both people would be to the advantage of each. The next step is to agree upon a solution to the problem. Now is the time for brainstorming. Both people should think of as many solutions to the problem as possible. These should be behavioral change for each person. It is important to propose more than one option because you will be more likely to find one that moth of you will find workable.
- Choose a mutually acceptable solution. Following the identification of the possible options, the people mutually evaluate them and make a choice. The evaluation of each option should include (a) the steps in implementation, and (b) the possible outcomes. What will be required for each person to effect a change by implementing a given alternative?How will the change affect the behavior of both people and the relationship as a whole? If one person prefers a certain solution but the other finds it unacceptable, discuss the reasons. Sharing your ideas can promote growth and prevent feelings of rejection. Continue discussing until you agree to try one solution to see if it works.