While continuing to post on leading thinkers tips for conflict handling, here are our own Top Ten Conflict Tips based on the Conflict Model behind this blog. They can be used to improve the handling of any conflict you face, whether you are the President of the United States or someone facing difficult marital, work or personal conflicts:
- Recognize that most of us are very averse to conflict and often deny we are facing a conflict until such denial becomes unsustainable. Confront conflict early and often
- Use systematic processes to handle conflict, don’t just wing it
- Try to collect data relevant to your conflict with an open mind, prior to the conflict, and even try to agree what is relevant data for negotiation up front with the other party
- Really make an effort to get clear on your own interests in any conflict and separate that out from the positions you may have taken historically or want to take going forward. Conflict is all about meeting your real long term interests.
- Really make an effort to understand the interests of the other side in conflict and again separate them out from the position or stance they take in any negotiation
- If strong emotions arise in conflict, adjourn and try to attend to what is going on. What are emotions telling you about what is important to you. Neither vent nor suppress the emotion but attend to it
- Consider using maximum creativity on possible solutions to the conflict using the question ‘what if’ without commitment and to find possible win-win solutions that meet both sides interests
- In really tough conflicts, try to look at the conflict from outside and try to see both sides simultaneously how ever uncomfortable or paradoxical that seems
- Before making any agreement to end a conflict, check all the possible ‘what ifs’ and build a a very specific agreement that does best in meeting both sides’ interests, is clear and understood by both sides.
- By using a systematic process, you are better able to learn from and improve your conflict handling. So use a formal After Action Review each time you complete a conflict or significant part of one to see what went well, what not so well and what would you differently next time
And above all recognize that conflict is unavoidable, amenable to systematic approaches and actually often easier to deal with than chronically avoid.
Look above at the Conflict Model page for more detail