Tips for Transforming Conflict
By choosing to deal with conflict in a non-adversarial manner, we create a place where it is safe to disagree and contribute to transforming the way the world deals with conflict.
- Accept that conflicts are a natural part of life: Many people share resources and space on this planet yet have vastly different cultures, histories, and norms. Conflict is a natural result of differences in the world.
- Treat conflict as an opportunity: Conflicts don't have to be destructive. Instead, we can view conflict as an opportunity to grow, learn and improve relationships.
- Be aware of your initial reaction and take a deep breath: Instead of giving in to an initial impulse to jump in and escalate the conflict, it's useful to pause and think about your approach.
- Choose your approach: If you determine that the conflict is worth addressing, remember that you can choose between a win-lose approach - where we focus on each other as the problem - and a mutual gains approach - where we work together to identify separate and mutual need and interests.
- Listen and learn: Conflicts are often based on stereotypes and lack of information-ask questions and listen until we truly understand each other's point of view. Truly hearing and being heard can actually transform a conflict.
- Discover what's important: We tend to have disagreements over our positions-the way we see things or what we want. But we seldom talk about our interests and needs-the reasons why our positions are important to us. Often there is some overlap in interests and needs-the common ground where we are likely to find solutions.
- Respect each other: An agreement can only hold if the parties grow to respect and trust one another. We need to take responsibility for our role in the conflict - blaming creates resentment and anger.
- Find common ground: Finding common ground does not mean settling for the lowest common denominator. Finding common ground is creating a new "highest common denominator" by identifying something we can all work towards together.
- Be creative: There are always many different ways to solve a problem - many different strategies by which to meet a need. The goal is to make sure we address the deep issues (not just the superficial symptoms) and generate as many options as possible.