Wednesday, August 19, 2009

conflict, resolution

I believe that one of the most important factors in a successful relationship (whether it’s between a couple, a group, societies, or countries) is the ability to resolve their differences constructively. Having compatible values is important but knowing how to resolve conflicts constructively is even more so. Regardless of how compatible the parties are, if either of them don’t know how to resolve the inevitable conflicts, their relationship is going to be difficult, if not doomed.

Conflicts are inevitable in any relationship regardless of the mutual interests or compatibility that brought them together.

There are five ways to deal with conflict:

1. Force the issue. One party forces the issue.
2. Acquiesce to the other person. Just give in.
3. Ignore the issue. Pretend there is none.
4. Compromise. Give something up in exchange for another.
5. Resolve it. Confront the differences.

The first three are obviously short-term palliatives. The fourth is the most common approach (probably because it seems most natural). But it frequently falls short of a win-win situation. I leave you to ponder that on your own.

It is the last approach that works. Seek to understand each other’s real needs and wants and develop your solution from there. I found Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” very useful in this regard. That, by the way, is one of the most influential and useful books that I have ever read. I highly recommend it.
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