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I.      Conflict Management Strategies:

A.     Learn proven strategies for resolution:

B.     Six step approach to a win-win

C.     How to separate the 2 sides of every conflict:  people & issues

D.     Empathetic listening

E.      Conflict as a motivator

F.      Four most common sources of conflict

II.     Dealing with your own emotions

A.     Accepting responsibility for your own emotions

B.     Expressing yourself effectively

C.     Getting to the root of the problem

D.     Appropriate expression of anger

E.      Assertiveness without anger

III.    Responding appropriately to the anger of others

A.     Validating someone’s emotions

B.     Avoid emotional triggers

C.     How to deescalate a problem

D.     Effective feedback

IV.    Conflict Communication Skills

A.     How to avoid the personal attack

B.     Don’t make false assumptions

C.     Addressing a chronic disagreement

D.     The art of negotiation

E.      Turn negative self-talk into positive outcomes

F.      Using positive strokes

V.     Diplomacy in action

A.     Where do most problems come from

B.     Be constructive and objective

C.     The 5 most powerful words in the English language

D.     Using questions to get what you need

E.      Provide respect

The very word “conflict” conjures up negative images of loud discussions, personal insult and more.  Conflict, however, is the driving force for change and resolution, two key elements of progress.  Conflict can and should be a positive process, but skills and process are critical to the process.

Conflict is inevitable Proven strategies for conflict resolution include negotiation, cooperation, mediation, and problem solving. Many of these strategies share similar techniques or attributes that will make the resolution successful.

In any organization, conflict resolution must work toward a win-win situation.  There are six basic steps to consider to achieve the win-win.  First, conflict cannot be solved in the face of hot emotion.  Everyone needs to stand back and take time to compose themselves.  Second, communication must be clear, objective, and conveying only the situation as the speaker understands it.

Third, each participant needs to restate the problem as they heard it.  Fourth, everyone must take responsibility for their part of the conflict.  Fifth, there are many solutions to any conflict.  All parties involved need to brainstorm to find the best alternatives.  Finally, acknowledge the decisions that were made and thank everyone for their participation.

Throughout the communication process, participants must keep their focus on the actual problem, not their perception of the problem.  Conflict often arises out of miscommunication.  When participants start to digress and bring in other issues, remind them of the problem that you are trying to solve.

You may take it for granted that you understand the pressures and constraints felt by others, but they will not know you understand unless you tell them.  Demonstrate empathetic listening.  People with whom you disagree need to know that you have heard them even if you disagree.  Show appreciation for the difficulties the other party is having.  Don’t assume that they understand your primary interest or that you understand theirs.

There are four main sources of conflict in any given situation;  1) goal incompatibility, 2)  differentiation between departments, 3)  task interdependence, and 4) limited resources.  At the heart of each of these situations is an imbalance of power.

It can be very difficult to remain objective in the heat of C, but your emotions will be key to success.  Recognize that the problem isn’t your problem or their problem.  The problem begins and ends within the organization and needs to be resolved there.  In order to remain objective, you cannot take criticism or communication as a personal attack.  How you respond to conflict will have an effect on the outcome.  In any conflict the feelings of each party need to be validated, whether you agree with them or not.  Avoid emotional triggers when communicating.  Do not use words such as always or never.  Nothing always or never happens.

Effective feedback is critical to resolution.  In order to be effective, feedback has to be proactive.  It focuses on what you want the person to do, not what you want the person to stop doing.  Effective feedback is specific.  It tells the person what was done well or what needs to be changed.  It separates what the person did from its effect on you.  Effective feedback is about behavior they are able to change.  Effective feedback is well-timed.  If feedback is to be effective it has to be given when they are receptive.

Assumptions will only further conflict and not resolve it.  If I assume I know how you feel, I am telling you that your opinion doesn’t matter.  I also cut off the opportunity to learn from the input that you can provide.

Negotiation is an art.  The first step in negotiation is to establish a connection.  Use language that everyone understands.  Include everyone in the process so that everyone has a stake in the outcome.  Arrange an environment that fosters cooperation.  Consider multiple options before making a decision.  Consider the consequences of the decision you are about to make.

Within any organization, the promotion of cooperation will serve well to reduce the conflict that can occur.  Cooperation leads to coordination of effort, increased productivity, and many other positive benefits.  Conflict can lead to distrust and insecurity.

References

Bernstein, G. S., & Halaszyn, J. A. (1989). A Practical Guide for Professional Development. Baltimore, Maryland: Brookes Publishing.

Mediate.com. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2006, from http://www.mediate.com

Patton, B. R., Giffin, K., & Patton, E. (1989). Decision Making Group Interaction. New York: Harper & Row.

Scott, C. D., & Jaffe, D. T. (1990). Managing Organizational Change. Los Altos, CA: Crisp Publications, Inc.

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2006, from http://www.wikipedia.com

Work Relationships. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2006, from http://humanresources.about.com/od/workrelationships/

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