People try to avoid conflict but conflict is inevitable. The key is learning how to effectively DEAL with conflict that occurs in life.
Generally when conflict exists, people become polarized in their positions. The more the conflict grows, the more attached they become to ‘winning’. They fight and fight over which way the situation will go.
Tempers flare. Feelings get hurt. Resentments build. It becomes a power struggle with little hope for peaceful resolution.
It’s ‘my way or the highway!’
The way around the stalemate is to focus on interests rather than solutions.
Here are three easy tips to get underneath the situation and increase the chances of making true progress while keeping the relationships between the parties in decent condition.
1. Ask your adversary why they prefer the solution they proposed
2. Find out what is important to them about that solution they offered
3. Ask him or her what they are afraid might happen if their proposed solution isn’t implemented
As Stephen Covey so eloquently stated in The 7 Habits of Highly
Effective People, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
Asking these questions will demonstrate to the other person that you are interested in understanding them and their situation.
Hearing the answers might actually influence your ‘position’. Let it. That puts you a step closer to finding a solution that works for both of you.
Once you’ve unearthed the rationale behind their position, share the answers to the questions you posed. Do so in a collaborative manner: not to make them change their mind, but to help them gain some insight into your situation and thinking.
Once you’ve gotten the underlying issues on the table, set aside both sets of solutions.
Brainstorm for other, more creative options that address the underlying needs you both expressed.
When you ‘attack’ problems from addressing underlying needs and interests, the solutions you devise will be more satisfying and effective.