As humans, we are relationship beings and are interdependent. We have a lot of things in common as a species, but we also have many individual differences that help us. It is these individual differences and interests that tend to breed disputes and conflicts among us.
We are faced daily with situations that cause conflict in our lives. Family and domestic violence, struggle in relationships at home, communities, church organizations and workplaces. Our differences, disputes, and conflicts may be stressful and devastating to us.
Though not pleasant, we cannot stop conflicts as long as we remain humans and dwell together. We must, therefore, learn how to resolve our conflicts as and when they occur if we are to live peacefully and harmoniously with each other.
But, the big question is, ‘how do we resolve them?’ How do we resolve our disputes and conflicts so that we can smile again?
Jesus was clear about the principles of reconciliation: resolution of disagreement and restoring relationships are more important than any offering and religious practices. (Matthew 5:21-25, 12:7 and Hosea 6:6.)
When we try to resolve our conflicts, we often use one or more of these three approaches:
- We either distance ourselves or avoid the conflict;
- We become aggressive and fight one another or
- We want to resolve it in a non-adversarial way which seems the best way but lack of dispute resolution tools and techniques makes it very difficult for us to do.
None of these approaches, unfortunately, lead to real resolution of our conflicts.
In the course of my research and professional practice as a Clinical Psychologist and Conflict Resolution Expert, I developed the Personal Conciliation dispute resolution strategy. It is a conflict resolution approach that uses the CONFLICT acronym to resolve our conflicts.
RESOLVING CONFLICT WITH C.O.N.F.L.I.C.T.
C – Cause of Conflict: Understand the Cause of the conflict. Success, of a conflict resolution, largely depends on understanding the cause of the conflict. We sometimes get caught up with the effects of the conflicts and name them as the cause. We need to carefully identify the root cause of the conflict.
O – Opportunity: Look for Opportunity. Find the time and place appropriate to face to face talk about the conflict. In conflict, we most of the time lose control and reason to choose occasion suitable to talk about our differences. Identify your own and others’ mood, preoccupation and activities of the day and time and be sure it helps.
N – Non-Adversarial: Open your discussion in an appreciative way. You wish your other to listen to whatever you have to say. Though difficult to control emotion especially anger, your objective of face to face talking about your differences can only be achieved when your expressions are non-adversarial.
F – Feeling: Feelings fueled by our perception are most of the time the trigger of our reaction in conflict. These feelings are sometimes ignored or hidden therefore making our expressions and actions divergent. We need to acknowledge these feelings and name them in a way that is conciliatory.
L – Learned behaviour: Our wrong reflexive behaviours in conflict are sometimes dispositions learned as a response in conflict situations. We use them as a defense and offensive tool against our aggressor. These wrong behaviours must be identified, named and unlearned.
I – Interest of the people: Sometimes though we fight our others, we do not really know what we want – change, concerns, agreement etc…when we approach resolution process in conflict, we need to be clear with what we want and put it in a simple yet clear language. This will help in finding a common ground.
C – Conciliation: The preservation of our relationship is the focus hence we decide to do it ourselves than using adversarial ways and kiss good-bye to our relationships. Conciliation must be your target because conflict is resolvable except when the people involved are not willing.
T – Trust: Relationship gets better if conflict resolution approach is successful. It builds trust and mutual respect.The resolution must establish a mutual agreement that is unbiased, acceptable and clearly defines the future responsibilities.
If it did not work out the first time, maybe the reason why the salesman did not sell is because he/she did not ask the second time. Re-define and re-name the cause and go over it again for collaborative dispute resolution. It will surely work out if you are both willing to work it out.
Welcome to the world of Conflict Resolution!