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Making Peace--Tips on Managing Conflict
Irritated? Frustrated? Angry? Ready to Explode? You're not alone. Whether
it's an argument with a friend, aggravation because a driver cuts in front
of you, or a disagreement about the best way to do a job-conflict is part
of everyday life. Conflict produces stress, hurts friendships, and can
cause injury and death. We can't always avoid conflict but we can learn to
manage it without violence. That way, we use conflict to improve our lives
and to learn from past mistakes.
What Skills Are Needed to Manage Personal Conflict?
* Understanding your own feelings about conflict. This means recognizing
your "triggers," words or actions that immediately provoke an
emotional response, like anger. It could be facial expression, a tone
of voice, a pointing finger, a certain phrase. Once you know your
"triggers," you can better control your emotions.
Moving Away From Confrontation and Toward Agreement
* Active listening. Go beyond hearing just words; try to understand what
the other person is saying. Listen carefully, instead of thinking
about what you're going to say next. Active listening requires
concentration and body language that says you are paying attention.
* Generating options for resolving a conflict. Many people can think of
only two ways to manage conflict-fighting or avoiding the problem. Get
the facts straight, brainstorm all ideas that might help resolve the
argument, and discuss the pros, cons, and consequences.
* Look at your response to conflict. If your style isn't working-you're
left with raging emotions that lead to more problems-try to change.
If You Can't Work It Out...Get Help
* State your needs and define the problem. Talk about the issues without
insulting or blaming the other person. Don't state your position;
that's simply your solution to the problem. Take a hard look at what
is said (position) with what is really meant (needs).
* Together, discuss various ways of meeting needs or solving the
problem. Be flexible and open-minded.
* Decide who will be responsible for a specific actions after reaching
agreement on a plan.
Try mediation. Courts, schools, and businesses are turning more and more to
mediation to help resolve disputes. Mediators do not make decisions for
people-they help people make their own decisions.
In mediation sessions, a neutral third person (or persons) helps the
parties in conflict resolve their problem. Mediators should be detached and
unbiased. They may be professionals or volunteers who have undergone
intensive training. Mediators do not dictate a settlement; they encourage
dialog, provide guidance, and help the parties define areas of agreement
and disagreement. A mediation session is confidential.
Try arbitration. In arbitration, a neutral party acts as a judge. Disputing
parties agree on an arbitrator who then hears evidence from all sides, asks
questions, and hands down a decision. Usually, the arbitrator's decision is
final. Some arbitration programs use as a panel of arbitrators who make
decisions by majority vote.
Try an ombudsman. An ombudsman is hired by and works within an institution.
The ombudsman's job is to investigate complaints from the public against
the institution, make recommendations, and try to resolve problems. He or
she has no enforcement power, but must use reason and persuasion to
convince management that certain policies or practices should be changed.
Newspapers, television and radio stations, government agencies, health care
systems, and educational systems often use ombudsmen.
Tips for Making Peace
* Choose a convenient time.
Where To Find Help
* Plan ahead.
* Talk directly.
* Don't blame or name-call.
* Give information.
* Show that you are listening.
* Talk it through.
* Work on a solution.
* Follow through.