Most people believe that conflict is something negative. In many cases conflict can be. Whether 1 a small dispute between two neighbors or a global conflict that leads to war, conflict is inevitable. Disagreement is a part of human nature. We are a society of individuals working together to achieve common goals.
How we handle conflict determines whether the outcome is a negative or a positive one. If properly handled, conflict may lead to growth, maturity, and understanding of one another. If not, conflict at school could lead to broken ties, at home to hurt feelings, and in the workplace to discouragement. These negative outcomes may be avoided when conflict is handled properly. There is no single technique that works best for settling conflicts.
What works in a school setting might not work at an office or at home. Regardless where or with whom the conflict is with, a person must examine themselves, his or her intentions and more importantly, core values. Respect, integrity, commitment and individual accountability are basic core values people expect from one another. Without respect, conflict can lead to anger, hate, and maybe even violence. Respect is the most important thing that people can show towards each other. In conflict, a sign of respect can show that you are willing to work with the other person to help resolve the problem regardless of any personal differences.
Integrity goes hand-in-hand with respect. An individual's honesty is very important when negotiating with others. Earning back the trust of others may prove to be a difficult and frustrating task. Nobody wants to deal with a liar or an individual that is easily corrupted by outside influences.
Commitment is the one core value that will help all parties (involved in conflict) reach a solution in a timely manner. When someone shows commitment by putting forth time and effort, that person can then be counted on to reach goals set by themselves or others. Being responsible for your actions is arguably the most difficult core value to maintain. Admitting mistakes and willing to take responsibility is something a great deal of people have trouble with. People fear the consequences that go along with making mistakes. In most cases, the consequences for lying (or not saying anything) about personal mistakes are far worse than admitting to them when they happen.
There is no guarantee that both conflicting parties are aware of or even practice these core values. These values may sometimes be lost or forgotten in conflict resolution. These values may not even be necessary if the proper techniques are exercised in conflict resolution. Conflicting parties may even come to an agreement through good communication, cooperation or compromise. "Although home, schools, and the workplace can be very supportive environments they are also places where difference of opinion, misunderstanding and outright competition occurs on a regular basis" (Pratt, 1997). Communication is the ability to convey knowledge or information.
Communication is the foundation to a peaceful resolution. Without communication, conflicting parties have no idea what the others' intentions are, possibly leading to misunderstanding or distrust. How people communicate is just as important. Being mindful of others' beliefs or customs can help to ease the resolution process.
Once both sides have established proper communication, they will have to cooperate with each other and work towards a solution or compromise. Compromising is a technique where both sides come to a mutual agreement. Sometimes, a compromise might be best for both sides. An agreement might be met when all other techniques fail or both parties simply wish to avoid the conflict escalating.
A compromise might even favor both parties if they are willing to "give and take" fairly. While there is no clear winner, negotiating parties can end conflict peacefully using this technique through patience and cooperation. The best solutions cannot be reached without serious cooperation. While a conflict can be solved with little cooperation, the result might not be as beneficial as one where both cooperation and patience are exercised. If both parties took their time to fully understand what the others objectives were, they might realize that they could work together to reach a common goal. Cooperation might be a chance to turn a conflict into a team effort.
There are times though, that even cooperation, core values and other techniques fail to solve conflict between two parties. Outside assistance may be necessary. Peer mediation is an affective conflict resolution method used in many schools. With young adults, confiding certain problems with someone who is not in his or her age group may be difficult. Most teens feel like someone older may view the problem differently or might not completely understand the situation. Peer mediation basically teaches teens how to work out their problems amongst themselves.
To resolve a conflict with peer mediation, there are certain steps that one must approach to successfully resolve a conflict. When a problem occurs between two individuals a mediator steps in to help solve the problem. The first step for the mediator is to set the stage. The mediator should introduce themselves and keep a neutral position. Explaining to both parties that everything said is confidential and each person will have a chance explaining his or her side in a calm mature manner. Having communication amongst the two parties is very important in solving any conflict.
Identifying the problem is the second step. By identifying the problem, the mediator will be able to sort out facts. Everyone has his or her own perception of what exactly happened. Between two people, one's view may differ from the others' when there is a conflict.
Listening to the problem, restating the issue in simplest terms and keeping the problem separate from the people is important when mediating. "A listener who does not take sides. It is someone who is patient and respects others' viewpoints" (Weekly Reader Corporation, Jan 1999). Helping both parties agree on exactly what the problem is necessary. Refocusing the problem is the next step. By refocusing the problem the mediator helps the people get a new perspective on what it is they are arguing about.
Find the underlying "reason" why both individuals acted the way they did is important. Asking questions like, "Why did individual 'A' do what they did and why individual 'B' acted in the manner they did", can help you find the source of the problem. Finding the core of the problem is needed to generate possible solutions. The mediator's job is to brainstorm some possible solutions that will help in solving the conflict.
The possible solutions should be suitable to each individuals needs and not offend any other individuals. "Express any ideas that come to mind, collect as many ideas as possible, and don't discuss or criticize the ideas" (p. 5 Weekly Reader Corp. Jan 1999). Once the possible solutions are established, evaluating the situation and deciding on one solution that will lead to an effective plan is the last step. In order to decide on an effective solution, both disputants must agree on the choice. Having a discussion between both parties will help make a final decision. Both disputants are encouraged to think about what will work best and if it will help.
Once all options are considered and one is decided upon, a plan is set. The mediator should do an overview of all the steps and restate the agreement. Making sure both sides clearly understand the core of the problem and what needs to be done to successfully resolve the issue. Once these steps are completed, the conflict should have a successful resolution. Resolving personal conflicts successfully and peacefully is important in a learning environment. Many official school programs are set even as early as junior high all the way through colleges and Universities.
This allows for guidelines to be set on mediating, giving the schools a chance to monitor their students and avoid further problems. If the peer mediator fails to resolve the conflict (or if the conflict requires serious attention) they could ask a teacher or faculty member step in and resolve the conflict. Peer mediation might not work as well in a working environment as it would at school. While peer mediation might work for students, working adults are expected to solve their personal conflicts (with one another) in professional and mature manner. As a working adult you must practice core values if you are to solve conflicts at work to reach common goals. Along with core values, employees must use professional mannerisms and techniques.
Maintain appropriate eye contact and be mindful of body language and tone of voice. Avoid "chit-chat" or getting off the subject during problem-solving discussion. Many companies believe that time is money so be precise and specific when explaining your thoughts or ideas. Do not interrupt, regardless of rank or position within the workplace.
Assumption leads to miss-communication, make sure all the facts and need-to-know information is shared. Most importantly, everyone in a working environment should be prepared to sacrifice for the good of the company. A successful working environment that constantly changes. Sometimes change might favor some more than others. When resolved properly and professionally, conflict can be a positive occurrence keeping any company moving forward. Any type of conflict can have a positive outcome when the proper techniques are used.
Once the situation, environment and circumstances are taken into account, the proper technique used should help lead anybody towards a proper conflict resolution. Technique, used in conjunction with core values will make solving conflict that much easier and more rapidly. While most people believe that conflict is something negative, conflict does not always have to be.