Robert I. Winer’s article entitled Hints for Resolving Conflicts: Proactive Steps discusses very briefly the ways in which one can address conflicts and differences in a peaceful and ethical manner. He walks his audience through the Proactive Steps in which one can avoid having arguments; and makes several suggestions on how to manage disagreements and prevent them from becoming arguments.
“The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it” (Winer, 2001). There are reasons why Winer states and believes this statement. He mentions that one will not feel triumphant or find fulfilment following an argument if he has offended another person and made him feel inferior for that matter. He further implies that real triumph cannot be achieved if one has hurt another person’s pride. This is because resentment has been borne out of it.
This particular point made by Winer is much easier to understand if it is applied in real-life situations. One example is in an office setting wherein two employees come into a point where they have to justify opposing views about a certain subject.
One person believes one thing and the other believes otherwise. If one of them tries to win the argument by way of putting the other down and stressing his views in a manner that will make his colleague feel inferior, it cannot be claimed as a victory because a conflict came out of it. The other will most probably find an opportunity to put the other down in an attempt to “get even” and even resent that person for a long time; or worse, he can lose his self confidence and consider him self a failure.
Clearly, nothing came out of the argument but rather it gave rise to yet another issue which can later on lead to far more serious conflicts between the two parties. This is a very unhealthy situation; and in such case, Winer does not consider such manner of winning an argument as favourable.
According to the article, disagreements between individuals should be welcomed because if two parties agree all the time, “either of them is no longer necessary”. This brings us to the reality that disagreements are important for individual growth. It is unhealthy for two or more parties to agree all the time because other areas will not be explored and learning will not be achieved. Furthermore, situations where disagreements arise can be considered as opportunities that can help in nourishing a person’s communication skills, critical thinking and ability to analyze different subjects. It is in this manner that learning happens and things are examined in a different light or in a different perspective.
However, not all people view disagreements in a positive light. Some consider these as opportunities to bring other people down or to make them selves rise above the others – to state their personal opinions without considering others’ feelings or to simply stand up for what they believe in. This article suggests several methods in dealing with disagreements. The most important point is to prevent them from becoming arguments by not trusting one’s instinctive impressions which tend to be more defensive in nature given the disagreeable scenario.
Another basic point that is being mentioned in this article is that a person must learn how to control his temper. This is easy to understand as if one loses his temper, it can lead to a heated argument and that is where conflicts arise. In cases where conflicts already exist, it is still best to live by this basic point – “control of temper”. The more that a person can gain control over his temper, the more conflicts can be resolved.
Conflicts can be avoided by learning how to listen. Allow the other person to speak and try to understand his point. As mentioned earlier, do not trust personal instincts because they tend to be on the defensive side. Avoid dwelling on the things that you disagree on but rather put into consideration that ones that you agree upon. Seeing first the areas that call for agreement can help in resolving the ones that contradict your own beliefs and opinions.
Express your willingness to study more closely the ideas which are different from your own and make it a point to acknowledge the other party’s interest on the subject. It also helps to keep in mind that making the right choice of words can help in avoiding arguments and in resolving conflicts. Learning how to speak politely and with all sincerity even in the face of disagreement can help you earn the respect of others.
It is also extremely important for a person to admit it when he is wrong. It may take a lot of guts to be able to do so but it is necessary in order to avoid having serious conflicts. It is not right to fight for something that is clearly wrong just to save one’s pride. Setting aside one’s personal interests takes a lot of courage; but admitting errors and giving the credits to the ones who really deserve them, is a humble step that can lead to harmonious relationship. By practicing humility and setting aside pride, genuine respect can be earned. Admitting it when you are wrong is the most powerful peacemaking process that you can initiate. It is not a sign of weakness but rather an indication of professionalism, courage and credibility.
Respect for others’ feelings is an essential element in order to build healthy relationships and to avoid conflicts. Disagreements should also be seen as avenues for learning and not as opportunities to make others feel inferior. To avoid conflicts, determine points of agreement and avoid becoming defensive.
Admit own mistakes and give the credit to the ones who deserve it. Lastly, it is important to be sensitive with the choice of words at all times. Words are powerful and should not be used as weapons to put other people down and to generate conflicts between parties. Instead, use the power of words to seek resolution to certain issues and to initiate peacemaking processes by; first, learning how to reach out and second, by respecting others opinions.
Winer, R. (2001). Conflict Resolution. Hints for Resolving Conflicts: Proactive Steps. Philadelphia: Winer Foundation. http://www.gesher.org/Articles/conflict%20resolution/proactive%20steps.html