Clarifying Perception of Self to Help Prevent Conflict

Clarifying Perceptions of the Self (Pre-Conflict Resolution Self-awareness)

In his book ‘The Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution’ Dudley Weeks dedicates a whole section on Clarifying Perceptions. From experience, one of the key characteristics of our preparation is to take the time to look at ourselves, find out what we really think, believe, feel and what we perceive.

Remember that perceptions are not necessarily the reality, they are your reality. Here are several questions Dudley Weeks provides to help us through our self-discovery.

Important Questions to Ask First (Dudley Weeks)

“How am I perceiving the conflict and its resolution?”

“Do I see the conflict as a chance to clarify the disagreements and to work together to resolve them in a way that also improves the overall relationship?”

“What are needs? Which are most vital and immediate?”

“What does the relationship need if it is to be improved?”

“What do I need if it is to be improved?”

“What do I need as an outcome in this particular conflict?”

“Do any of my perceived needs obstruct some of the needs of the relationship?”

“Which needs are most important and immediate?”

“What are my goals for the relationship and how do my goals for this particular conflict affect them?”

“Are my expectations taking into account the other party’s needs, values, history and constraints?”

“Are any of my values or principles involved in this conflict?”

I have often use other questions to prepare myself for different conversations:

How do I perceive this conflict?

How do I feel about it now? How did I feel about it before?

Am I clear of my needs and those of the other party? Really? 100%?

Can I describe those needs?

What are my medium term and long-term goals for this relationship?

What do I want? What does my boss want?

What serves me and my organization most?

How do my goals for this conflict affect others?

The key is to invest the time to reflect and prepare as much as you can.

 In the early days of my career I was very stressed by the idea of confrontations, conflict between others, poor performance, negotiations and many other situations involving what I perceived as difficult conversations. I learned a lot about conflict and decided to prepare myself thoroughly. I also learned to put myself in the shoes of the other party and tried to figure out what I had done or said that had upset them. This made me much more confident, relaxed and more important, open for dialogue.

I love the concept of conflict partnership, it takes two to dance. Dudley Weeks also created the concept of the conflict relationship. It is very useful to dissociate the parties from the present conflict itself.

The key is to invest the time to reflect and prepare.

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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