Managing Conflict

Conflict is defined as the existence of opposing or differing points of view. Individuals bring unique information, perceptions, values and goals to every situation. Conflict is to be expected in situations that involve more than one person. It is important to understand processes that can be used in order to manage or resolve conflicts more effectively. There may be issues or conflicts which could benefit from the expertise and experience of a professional facilitator or mediator. For public policy and environmental cases involving multi-party conflicts, issues can often be mediated through the formation of an informal working group.

Easy steps to mitigate conflictSuggestions for Facilitating Conflict

  • Establish effective ground rules
  • Respond to frustrations and address concerns
  • Stay focused on issues
  • Ask clarifying questions
  • Address needs rather than positions
  • Determine areas of agreement
  • Listen carefully to other perspectives
  • Review main points
  • Determine where you are stuck
  • Discourage "us vs. them" scenarios
  • When necessary, take a break

Resolution Techniques

The use of effective conflict resolution techniques is vital in today’s environment. An issue resolution process can be used in managing and resolving conflicts of all magnitudes, regardless of whether it is an internal conflict, external, or one involving both. Conflict resolution is a process by which individuals and groups can come together to initiate dialogue and negotiate a settlement based on a collaborative effort. Agencies can survive conflicts and grow as a result. Leadership in conflict resolution requires:

  • Focusing on ‘needs’ rather than ‘wants’
  • Focusing on facts, not personalities
  • Demonstrating fairness to all parties
  • Staying open to options and ideas
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