Conflict Prevention vs Resolution, that is The Question!
How does an individual prevent conflicts? How can individuals take control of their destiny and not abdicate responsibility for resolving differences and issues?
There is a multitude of books written on Conflict Resolution. There are at least 75 pages of titles on Amazon and hundreds of articles written on the subject. There are many books written on prevention, but they are more oriented to society.
Negotiations often end at an impasse. They are led by lawyers (who are often excellent) who leave little space for their clients and their emotions and needs.
Compromises in negotiations, mediations and even arbitration leave parties somewhat dissatisfied and deeper issues are unresolved.
Mediation processes are often led by lawyers who have a set process to get to an agreement or settlement. Very few will dig into the parties’ emotions, fears and deeper needs.
So, how can we prevent conflict at the individual level?
From my perspective as an ex Human Resource Executive and coach/mentor, I believe that it is our role to help others build their autonomy at preventing and resolving disputes.
- Help individuals understand themselves in conflict situations (self-awareness)
- Help individuals build fundamental skills to remain calm, cool and collected
- Help them understand how the dispute started and evolved
- Coach them to follow flexible processes to resolve conflicts in a partnership fashion
The key is to build communication skills which starts with listening:
Active listening with a positive mindset and an honest intention to truly understand the other party and his/her needs.
Active listening to understand and respond appropriately.
Active listening to discover and understand fundamental needs.
In my opinion, it is all about COMMUNICATION.
Keep lines of communication open
Keep an open mind and be curious
Approach the issues with a positive mindset
Believe that the dialogue will result in a better relationship
Listen actively and with the best intentions
Ask questions, seek to understand
Respond with empathy
Use appropriate language
I have witnessed and participated in hundreds of potential and real conflicts in my career. I have worked with excellent lawyers, coaches and mediators who helped the organizations settle disputes.
After all that time and much training, research and reflection, I have come to believe that a lot of differences can be resolved by respect and dialogue. We can all learn the skills to become autonomous in preventing conflict.
Jean-Paul Gagnon, ACC, CHRP is a professional coach, certified as CINERGY Conflict Management Coach. He is also a trained practitioner in conflict resolution. He is a mediator in the workplace and a volunteer community mediator. He has over 35 years of experience in Human Resource Management.
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