Conflicts sprout up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but we don’t experience them as troublesomeuntil they ripen into a dispute. At its core, conflict resolution is really a communication discipline with a set of flexible practices. Before we dive into those practices, it’s a good idea to gain an understanding of the social psychology that influences our disputes. We will begin by taking a look at the anatomy of conflict and how we get locked into the name, blame, and claim cycle.
We are human, and in relationship to one another, we often have conflicting wants, needs, goals, and values. We have imbalances in our access to resources, and we have differing opinions about the rules that should govern everyone’s conduct. A dispute arises from conflict when three circumstances come together at the same time: The belief that you’re being deprived of something you need or want, the belief that someone else is causing the deprivation, and the belief that deprivation violates a social norm or rule.
These circumstances can be captured in three words: Name, Blame, and Claim. So, let’s say Anu forgets to include his manager Ashu in an email loop about a new project he is angling for. Ashu gets upset about being bypassed and accuses Anu of violating the social rule of running things past the boss. Her accusation is the beginning of the name-blame-claim loop. And we are off and running, it’s a full-blown dispute.
Ashu feels she’s been deprived of something she wants, she blames Anu for the wrongdoing,and claims she’s violated a workplace norm. So now let’s make this personal. If you backpedal to your most recent argument with a friend or co-worker, see if you can deconstruct your conversation. Remember, even if the argument only occurred in your head, it’s still a conflict, an internal conflict. So if you haven’t had a full-blown argument recently, thinking about something you’re upset about but haven’t yet aired.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION STYLE :
We will focus here on the five most typical styles we use in an effort to deal with our discomfort.These styles are Suppression, Avoidance, Resolution, Transformation, and Transcendence. We suppress, we refuse to talk about certain things, and we tell others that they shouldn’t talk about them either. We shut down any possible resolution because the whole process makes us uncomfortable.
We avoid, we don’t even give voice to our true thoughts or feelings. Instead, we stew, we harbor bad thoughts, we have imaginary conversations in our heads, or we talk to someone else, trying to gain alliances and prove we are right and the other person is wrong. Moving up the scale of our problem- solving capacity is resolution. With this style we are engaged, we are making an effort to understand why the conflict occurred, and we’re brainstorming ways to solve the problem cooperatively.
We also transform, that means we use the conflict to transform our relationships. We work to understand our conflict partner while also owning our part with the intention of shifting our behavior in a lasting way. You’ll notice that I use the term Conflict Partner. This is because not only does it take two to tango, it takes immense courage to take your part in the conflict. We are also capable of transcending conflict, moving past it free of bitterness and resentment, because we move past the need to engage. We’ve given up the hold our triggers have on us. On the other hand, if you notice that you travel between suppression and avoidance,start paying attention to your triggers, the things that typically upset you. And notice how your default response alters the quality of your relationships. Here’s why: You can’t resolve a conflict unless you’re willing to take your part in it.
So, be honest with yourself, where do you land? All this awareness building is an essential ingredient to resolving any conflict.
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