Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A happy person’s guide to conflict resolution.

AAAaaahhhh!!! by
Beard Papa

All of us have times when we need to resolve a conflict with another person. Whether at work or at home, they are times when we find it hard to be rational about our problems. Perhaps we can’t admit our fault, or we are blind to good qualities in the other person. Maybe they just rub us the wrong way or push our hot-buttons.

Whatever the reason, we all find ourselves in need of tools to come to a fair and equal solution to a quarrel or problem. The best way to do this is rationally, thoughtfully, with a positive attitude. So here are a few tips to get you started on cooperative problem-solving:

  1. Take a deep breath and smile. Start your interaction off on the right foot. Let the past stay in the past and imagine today going smoothly as you both work together to achieve your goals.
  2. Look for mutual interests. Search for the areas where you both agree. Once you know where you’re both on the same page, you can consider how to reach a compromise on the other issues.
  3. Take a humor break. If you are in a conflict that grows heated, or you are at opposite sides of the field, take a short break to calm yourself and relax. Problems are resolved more easily when people are open to listening. Try asking them their favorite funny commercial or their ideal pet. Anything to diffuse the tension and relieve stress.
  4. Improve your listening skills. Listen to the opposition’s argument as if you have to win a debate from their side. Focus your attention to find the valid points in their concerns. This will help you find common ground and work together more easily.
  5. Ask questions. Clarify the positions of others. Ask them, “What do you see as the biggest difference in our positions?” Or “How do you think we can fix this problem?” Asking specific questions on topics that are unclear to avoid confusion.
  6. List several possible solutions. Choosing more than one solution leaves room for cooperation and flexibility. It also suggests that more than one person can be right. Work on the one you both like, perhaps with pieces of the remaining solutions to improve it.
  7. Outline your key points. Whether you are dealing with a problem at work or at home, preparing an outline helps to gather your thoughts and keep you focused on the topic of debate. Your key points will keep the conversation on track and keep confusion and misunderstanding to a minimum.

Mutual, respectful problem solving doesn’t happen overnight. You have to work at it and practice. Bringing a positive attitude and an open mind is the best starting point to having constructive, honest and open communication.

No comments: