In resolving conflict, after you have defined the problems, generated options, and started thinking about what the best options are, now you want to choose the options. It is a good idea that you, along with those with whom you have conflict, after looking at all the options, start deciding which options are the best. Take two or three options and put them together. When you put them together then you can decide how to implement the options, however, you will want get clear on that before you do it. If you get sign-up to the process of choosing among multiple options you will have much more forward movement. That’s how you resolve conflict.
The first thing to do to resolve conflict is find the problem. Then you want to generate options and as you are generating enough options you are going to want to evaluate them. The best way to evaluate the options is to look at all the options and rate them 1 to 10. Ten means it is a great idea, one means it stinks. When you use a 1 to 10 scale to determine the value of each of the options, the highest numbers become self-evident. I recommend using the 1 to 10 scale and the best options will emerge by themselves.
If you are going to resolve conflict, the first thing you want to do is find the problem. After you have done that, you want to generate possible options. Let’s suppose you are in conflict with some other people and you’ve agreed to sit down to work it out. Their first impulse is to come up with what they think is the “right” solution. My recommendation is to come up with multiple options; certainly more than two, preferably three or more. If you have paper, write them all down. You will have a temptation to evaluate the options as they are suggested. I recommend that you withhold evaluation and that they do so as well. Generate multiple options and you will see that the more options that are available, the less conflict there is.
If you are going to resolve conflict, one of the first things that you need to do is define the problem, particularly with the person with whom you have conflict. The way you do that is you ask them, from their view, what the problem is. When they tell you, you listen and play it back and simply ask for clarification. If there are more people with whom you have conflict, you ask them as well. The more you ask, the more you find out, from their view, what the conflict is. Then listen for the nature of the conflict in the form of a question as opposed to a statement. So rather than saying, “The problem is we don’t get along.” say, “The problem is, how are we going to figure out to get along?” When you put it in the form of a question, you are much more likely to get answers and then you will get better results. This is step 1 in resolving conflict.
One of the things you will want to do if you are going to resolve conflict is to review the way you think about compromise. If you’re a them vs. us, win – lose, black – white, kind of person then often you think that any kind of compromise is a loss. Compromise is, you give a little and I give a little, and we make a quid pro quo kind of deal. But, if you think that anything less than what you want is a loss, then you are going to associate weakness and loss with compromise. My recommendation is to remember if you are going to resolve conflict, compromise is one of the essential tools to do it. When you learn to compromise, you are probably going to resolve the conflict and move on.
One of the things that you want to do if you are going to resolve conflict is you must adjust your view on conflict. Lots of people think that conflict is bad and therefore, destructive and you must avoid it. The reality is, conflict is inevitable and it’s what happens with people. If you understand that it is inevitable, sometimes when you actually resolve conflict, you feel relived; it feels like the air is cleared. Rather than deciding that conflict is bad, consider that conflict is normal and right on schedule. If you think that way, you are much more likely to confront it and learn the skills to resolve it. So conflict is inevitable and you can learn the skills and you’ll get better results.
One of the beliefs that are very counter-productive in resolving conflict is them vs. us. That means that you think in the terms of win or lose, right or wrong, good or badand them vs. us. If you have that notion, it is very unlikely that you are ever going to resolve conflict because it’s now them vs. us. So, think about us and us. Think about demonizing “them” less and about trying to work with “them,” whoever theyare. When you do that, you are much more likely to resolve conflict and them vs. us will become less toxic.
When it comes to resolving conflict, most of us are ill-equipped and unskilled to deal with it effectively. Most of us do either “fight” or “flight.” “Flight” is where you run away from the conflict hoping that it will take care of itself. “Fight” is an opportunity for a contest where there is an adversarial outcome that goes on and on. The first thing to think about when it comes to resolving conflict is the “third option.” The “third option” is to resolve. Resolving the conflict means we have to have the skills to do it and we want to come up with an outcome that we can live with, something that is less than perfect but still workable. So think about resolving conflict rather than flight or fight.
It is curious that all the surveys continue to confirm that everyone wants more listening… listening from your partner, a service provider, from a manager; the reality is rarely do people actually listen. When you listen, its more than just hearing what someone says. It means that you play back to them what you thought they said. When you do that, you reduce the margin for error between what you heard and what they said. And, more important, when you play it back, they feel understood. If they feel understood, they are much less likely to get defensive. Spend more time listening to what people say and then play back to them, particularly when it is important what they said. When you do that, you actually make progress because listening is the best way to get your point across.
Think about the way in which your spirit can soar when you do something wonderful for someone else, particularly someone you barely know. For example: it looks like someone in a public place is very unhappy; buy a flower and give it to them. If there is someone in front of you at the supermarket and they are fumbling for change, pay it for them. Go to the hospital and spend some time with a sick person who wants company. It is really remarkable how you feel so much better about life when you perform a random act of kindness. So pay it forward, show some love, show some care, and your spirit will benefit enormously.