Managing Conflict -- Stop and Look

It's easy to think of all difficult communication as "conflict." Here we define "managing conflict" as handling the case where two or more want the same time, space, resources, and/or rewards. If it's not mere diversity or ignorance, it might be conflict.

Most humans must continually juggle various needs for the same time, space, resources, or rewards. Many enjoy the challenge like solving a puzzle. What we want to resolve and reconcile are bad feelings and poor communication in these conflicts. 

In managing open conflict, the STOP involves ending the rollout of assertiveness, checking again to keep the voice moderate, getting distance mentally and perhaps also physically, and determining whether help is needed from outside the conflict.

In managing open conflict, the LOOK means actually seeing again oneself and the others in the situation. See again the nonverbals and guess again at feelings and meanings. Here's the question to ask yourself: "How are we fighting?"

Five conflict management strategies: Avoid (lose-lose), Accommodate (lose-win), Use Authority/Compete (win-lose or lose-win), Compromise (win some, lose some), Collaborate (win-win). Each strategy has its place. No strategy fits all situations.

Conflict tips: If he's got a gun, Avoid the conflict. If she's elderly, Accommodate her needs. If he's your young child, use your Authority. If it's sports, Compete. If she holds most of the power, negotiate a Compromise. If everyone's able, Collaborate. 

Don't get stuck in one conflict management strategy. Analyze which strategy is best for the situation. Examine the strategy of others involved. The LOOK in Managing Conflict requires listening to the what and how of the current communication situation.

Copyright 2014 Wilma Zalabak