Conflict is part of human life. Conflict is a disharmony between parties. The causes of conflict are usually derived from a few basic areas. These include communication issues, differences in values or interests, lack of resources, personality clashes, power conflicts and differences in expectations.
It can be argued that conflict, and the resolution of conflict has helped with human evolution. Resolution usually brings in a greater understanding between parties and perhaps a bonding of the former adversaries. That is why one should not automatically fear conflict. Keep in mind that a conflict's resolution can improve relationships. Look forward to the positive ending.
Just like there are numerous ways a conflict could start, there are multiple ways to resolve the conflict. There is no single best method to conflict resolution. Each situation will have its own unique blend of possible solutions.
Some of the more common approaches to conflict resolution are: collaborative, compromising, accommodating, competition and avoiding. Ideally, the goal in conflict resolutions is to adopt an approach that meets the circumstances of situation, resolves the problem, respects all parties' legitimate interests, and mends any damaged relationships. Understanding the genesis of a conflict usually helps with effectively navigating and ultimately resolving the conflict.
Each person has their own perspective that is developed from past experiences and beliefs. Humans have developed a filtering system to pick out a few of the billions of bits of information we experience each second. Those filters help us make sense of the world. Each person has a different set of experiences and beliefs so each person has a different perspective of reality.
The first step to conflict resolution is to accept that the other party has a different perspective on the issue. One person's “map of reality” will differ from another person's “map of reality.” The key to resolving a conflict is to see the situation of various perspectives.
So how can one see the situation from a different perspective? There is an excellent technique developed by the creators of NLP (Neuro Linguistics Programming).
The first step is to set up three chairs, two facing each other and one perpendicular to the other two. Label one of the first two chairs “Party One” or your name. Label the second chair “Party Two” or the other person's name. Label the third chair an “Observer.”
Now, sit in the first chair (your chair) and re-experience the issue from your perspective. Make sure to ask yourself (and answer) the following; What is the problem? What would I like to say? Why is this important to me? What would I consider as success and failure?
Next, sit in the second chair (the other party's chair) and re-experience the issue from their perspective. Step into them and try to see things the way they would see the situation. Practice your empathy. Make sure to ask and answer, from their perspective, the following; What is the problem? What would they like to say? Why is this important? What is considered success and failure?
Finally, sit in the last chair. Take the perspective of someone who is outside the situation, an unbiased observer – and a wise observer at that. Replay the interaction between the parties. From this perspective, ask: What is it that I see? What do I want for both persons sitting in the other chairs? What are the truly important things to consider? What does each party need to consider about the situation from the other party's perspective?
This exercise is designed to expand a person's perspective on the issues involved in a situation/conflict. Once a person can see things from another person's perspective, they will be open to reconsider their position or accept parts of the other person's position. This will lead to the possibility of compromise or collaboration.
Conflict will happen. It is important to develop skills to mitigate conflict. The “three chair” exercise is an excellent technique that helps expands one's perspective on the situation. Understanding that others have a different view is the first step to resolving conflict.