In order to work towards resolving conflict we first need to understand exactly what's going on. To help us to develop this understanding it can be a very helpful exercise to create a map of the conflict which includes the core issues and participants. When making a map of the conflict it is important to:
1. Clearly identify and understand the issue/s as so often the issues
become blurred with personality issues and other unresolved tensions. Other times, one issue moves into another and people forget why they started fighting in the first place. The more clearly the issue/s can be named, the better the chance for a positive solution.
2. Identify the individuals and groups involved in the conflict. Often, conflict involves more than two people. Others are involved and impacted at various levels.
3. Try to understand each person's needs. Conflict can develop when people's needs are either being unmet or challenged. Needs may vary from basic ones like equal time on the photocopier to deeper issues like the need for affirmation, trust and reward.
4. Try to understand each person's concerns and fears. The more we can put ourselves into the shoes of others, the better chance we have of understanding, and hopefully resolving, the conflict. Some examples are:
- someone showing resistance to change as they are fearful that they won't have the skills to function in the new way.
- a boss who is not letting you implement all of your bright ideas may be fearful that he might once again end up holding a bag of half finished bright ideas like the one the last person in your position left.
- evaluation and review time can bring up fears of job security.
5. Make an assessment of how serious the conflict is and its history. Is this a storm in a tea cup or a tea cup in a storm? Is this a new thing or does it reflect years of smoldering conflicts? The intensity of the storm will shape the appropriate response.
Is there a conflict situation that you are in at the moment that you could map out?
Did you get a chance to use the "don't react, respond" statement from the last email in the past couple of weeks? I had a couple of situations in which I could have easily lost my cool but I used this effective little statement..It works... Don't react, Respond!