An Introduction to Conflict Resolution
The Thomas-Kilmann Instrument
Creating an Effective Atmosphere
Creating Mutual Understanding
Focusing on Individual Needs
Getting to the Root Cause
Building a Solution
This conflict resolution course compliments the managing conflict training we deliver in a classroom format.
Welcome to the Conflict Resolution workshop. Wherever two or more people come together, there is bound to be conflict. This course will give participants a six-step process that they can use and modify to resolve conflicts of any size. Participants will also learn crucial conflict resolution skills, including dealing with anger and using the Agreement Frame.
People often assume that conflict is always negative. This is not true! People are inherently different, and conflict simply happens when those differences come to light. Viewing conflict in this way can help us maximize the possible positive outcomes of the problem at hand. With a conflict resolution process, people can explore and understand those differences, and use them to interact in a more positive, productive way.
There are five widely accepted styles of resolving conflicts. These were originally developed by Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann in the 1970’s. We have even designed our conflict resolution process so that it can be used in conjunction with these styles.
Although we promote the collaborative style throughout this workshop, there are instances where it is not appropriate (for example, it may be too time-consuming if the issue is relatively insignificant). Understanding all five styles and knowing when to use them is an important part of successful conflict resolution.
When people are involved in a conflict, there is typically a lot of negative energy. Anger, frustration, and disappointment are just a few of the emotions often felt. By establishing a positive atmosphere, we can begin to turn that negative energy around, and create a powerful problem-solving force. This creates a strong beginning for the conflict resolution process.
There is an old story about two girls arguing over an orange. They both wanted this single orange to themselves. They argued for hours over who should get it and why. Finally, though, they realized that they could both win: one wanted the rind for a cake, while the other one wanted to make juice from the inside of the orange.
This model of win-win situations and mutual gain is our preferred outcome for any conflict. In this module, we will explore how creating mutual understanding can lay the groundwork for a win-win solution.
So far, we have talked about laying the foundation for common ground, one of the key building blocks for win-win solutions. This module will look at some techniques for building common ground, and how to use common ground to create a partnership.
It may not seem like we have progressed very far in resolving the conflict. Indeed, most of these primary steps are focused on information gathering and problem solving. For minor conflicts, having these steps in your toolbox will simply help you keep all possibilities in mind during the conflict. For major conflicts, these steps will help you ensure you achieve the best solution possible for the situation.
Building a positive foundation and gathering information are key steps to resolving conflict, but it is going to be difficult to solve the problem if we don’t know what the problem is! In this module, we will learn how to delve below the current conflict to the root of the problem. This phase is important for long-term resolution, rather than a band-aid solution.
Once you have a good handle on the conflict, it’s time for all parties in conflict to start generating some options for conflict resolution. In this stage, it’s all about quantity, not quality; you want as many options to choose from as possible.
Once the possible solutions are laid out, it’s time to move on to choosing a solution and laying the groundwork for a resolution. This module will explore how to create criteria and how to use those criteria to create a shortlist of options, and then to move on to a solution.
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