Re: Tricky meeting
Michael F. Bowman (mfbowman@CAPACCESS.ORG)
Wed, 19 Nov 1997 21:49:10 -0500
Along with Bob's great insights in handling a situation likely to be
permeated with conflict, you may want to consider the following
guidelines frequently used in law and business to resolve conflicts
at the lowest possible level and with the least amount of damage to the
PRINCIPLES OF CONFLICT OF RESOLUTION
1. Think Before Reacting
The tendency in a conflict situation is to react immediately.
After all, if we do not react we may lose our opportunity.
In order to resolve conflict successfully it is important to
think before we react--consider the options, weigh the
possibilities. The same reaction is not appropriate for
2. Listen Actively
Listening is the most important part of communication. If
we do not hear what the other parties are communicating we
can not resolve a conflict. Active listening means not only
listening to what another person is saying with words, but
also to what is said by intonation and body language. The
active listening process also involves letting the speaker
know that he or she has been heard. For example,
"What I heard you say is......"
3. Assure a Fair Process
The process for resolving a conflict is often as critical
as the conflict itself. It is important to assure that the
resolution method chosen as well as the process for affect-
ing that method is fair to all parties to the conflict. Even
the perception of unfairness can destroy the resolution.
4. Attack the Problem
Conflict is very emotional. When emotions are high it is
much easier to begin attacking the person on the other
side than it is to solve the problem. The only way conflicts
get resolved is when we attack the problem and not each
other. What is the problem that lies behind the emotion?
What are the causes instead of the symptoms?
5. Accept Responsibility
Every conflict has may sides and there is enough responsi-
bility for everyone. Attempting to place blame only creates
resentment and anger that heightens any existing conflict.
In order to resolve a conflict we must accept our share of
the responsibility and eliminate the concept of blame.
6. Use Direct Communication
Say what we mean and mean what we say. Avoid hiding the
ball by talking around a problem. The best way to accomp-
lish this is to use "I-Messages". With an "I-Message" we
express our own wants, needs or concerns to the listener.
"I-Messages" are clear and non-threatening way of telling
others what we want and how we feel. A "you-message"
blames or criticizes the listener. It suggests that she
or he is at fault.
7. Look for Interests
Positions are usually easy to understand because we are
taught to verbalize what we want. However, if we are going
to resolve conflict successfully we must uncover why we want
something and what is really important about the issue in
conflict. Remember to look for the true interests of the all
the parties to the conflict.
8. Focus on the Future
In order to understand the conflict, it is important to under-
stand the dynamics of the relationship including the history
of the relationship. However, in order to resolve the conflict
we must focus on the future. What do we want to do
9. Options for Mutual Gain
Look for ways to assure that we are all better off tomorrow
than we are today. Our gain at the expense of someone
else only prolongs conflict and prevents resolution.
Taken from http://www.ogc.secnav.hq.navy.mil/adr.html
Speaking only for myself in the Scouting Spirit, Michael F. Bowman
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