the path to freedom 

conflict resolution

Conflict Resolution:  Two Strategies

Conflict Resolution is seeminly composed of two disparate elements. Concern for self results in an assertive stance while a concern for others is manifested as empathy. Neither position is particularly helpful in resolving conflicts. Conflict Resolution is necessarily dispassionate, objective and program orientated.

A primary goal of a mediator is to move people from beyond these naive strategies where people either assume an aggressive or concilitory position because neither serve to defuse or resolve a situation in which conflict exists.

Conflict Resolution:  The Five Styles

Five different styles or modes of resolving conflict can be identified.

Avoiders attempt to remove themselve physically, emotionally or actively from the area or source of conflict. This wait and see attitude is based on an intense dislike for conflict and an inability to deal with the emotions that conflict generate. Avoiders hope that the other person will get over it and things will go back to normal if given time.

Yeilders also are unable to deal with conflict but take a more proactive approach when confronted by the fact that someone is upset, they seek to passify the aggressor and give into whatever demands are being made on them.

Competitors see conflict as a test in which there is only one winner.

Cooperators attempt conciliation without surrender. They seek common ground and mutually beneficial outcomes.

If Cooperators seek a mutually beneficial outcome Concilliators appear to settle for an equal sharing of losses.

Concilliators accept some of the Demands put forth by the opposition in the expectation and on the condition that other Demands be modified or dropped.

contents page
conflict resolution
conflct resolution index
are you poor
hierarchy of values


Conflict Resolution:  What It Is

Conflict is not the same as a disagreement. Two or more people may disagree but not be in conflict. Two people may agree on one level and yet there be a unresolvable conflict in the way they see the situation. A debt may be accepted to exist by both parties but if the one party cannot pay and the other want payment a conflict exists due not to the parties intransigience nor  disagreement over details, but rather to do a situation neither knows how to resolve.

The problem revolves around the threat of loss or what insurance companies refer to as risk. (for more information on risk click here)

In the scenario above both parties fear loss, the one fears the loss of his investement or loan and the other the loss of his or her assets and possibly his or her future comforts should the loss of assets be serious enough.

Conflict occurs because people see things from different perspectives and from different angles and often are unable to see the situation from the viewpoint of the other person.

Beliefs, information, history, culture, values, experience, gender and just about every aspect of human existence can serve to divide people on issues and create conflict when the threat of loss exists.

In resolving a conflict it is vital to remember we all see things differently.

Conflict Resolution to be truly effective must be predictive, that is we need to be aware of situations in which conflicts are likely to arise and defuse the triggers that set off conflict before they occur.

At the heart of conflict resolution is the ability to discern what is perceived to be the threat and the ability to work around this threat to resolve and remedy the threat. The wrong thing to do is to unilaterally place the burdan on one participant in the conflict.

Indeed, insofar as either party is required to experience a loss the conflict will not have been fully resolved. So we can sum up the idea as to what conflcit resolution is as being resolving a potential threat of loss in such a way as no loss is experienced or perceived to have been experienced by any of the participants to the conflict.

Conflict Resolution:  Where We Work

Conflicts occur in personal relationships, at work and in governments. These are the main arenas of conflict and they are the main concern of a mediator.

more on workplace mediation