Introduction Here are the issues that will be covered: •How to identify conflict management goals •How to develop skills and strategies for working with difficult people •Self-reflection •Analysing issues •Negotiation strategies •Mediation •Dispute resolution
Conflict Us, them & self-reflection Conflict begins: - remember the ‘us & them’ •people who oppose our ideas •when we oppose others ideas •people who annoy us or people who simply do not like us •when we annoy other people or simply do like them Maccoby and Studder identify five steps to managing conflict (source: Wikipedia): Anticipate – Take time to obtain information that can lead to conflict Prevent – Develop strategies before the conflict occurs Identify – If it is interpersonal or procedural, move to quickly manage it Manage – Remember that conflict is emotional Resolve – React, without blame, and you will learn through dialogue
Conflict management How to deal with issues before they become difficult’: Analysing issues – Why might this become difficult? •Inappropriate, aggressive, insulting behavior or language (sexist, racist, ageist etc) •Consistently ignoring rules of the discussion •What’s the issue: people working together that haven’t before, previous misunderstandings, being ignored or over looked, people been upset or treated disrespectfully •Is this one person whose being ‘difficult’ or are there others •Are there specific situations when the persons being ‘difficult’ •Can you change those situations •Do you have all the details you need •What rules do you have to regulate the behavior – what rules need to be agreed to stop the behavior or difficulty •What are the goals you need the conflict resolution to reach •Be honest – is there anything you have, said or done which may have created the ‘situation’ – how can you change your behaviour or language to avoid conflict or difficult situations
Conflict management tools (1) How to develop skills and strategies for working with difficult people The lead person to present and clarify the background of the conflict Emotional awareness helps you: •Understand what is really troubling other people •Understand yourself, including what is really troubling you •Stay motivated until the conflict is resolved •Communicate clearly and effectively •Attract and influence others
Conflict management tools (2)Problem identificationi) Clearly explain your problem in terms of behaviour, consequences, and feelings.•Use a specific incident to illustrate the expectations or standards violated.•Stick to the facts, avoid drawing evaluative conclusions and attributing motives to the respondent.ii) Persist until understood and encourage two-way discussion.Restate your concerns or give additional examples.• Avoid introducing additional issues or letting your frustration and emotions grow.• Invite the respondent to ask questions and express another perspective. iii) Manage the agenda carefully.•Approach multiple problems, proceeding from simple to complex, easy to difficult, concrete to abstract.•Conversely, don’t become fixed up on one issue. If you reach an impasse, expand the discussion toincrease the likelihood of an integrative outcome. SolutionMake a request. Focus on things you share in common (principles, goals and constraints) as the basis forrecommending preferred alternatives.
Putting your conflict skills into action (1) Getting the detail – speak to the person – assess if you need to do this with a ‘neutral’ person in the room 1.Stay calm, listen Focus on them, not yourself In conversations, I often lose my mind in my own thoughts. I get hung on what I’m going to say next or random thoughts like, ‘How do I look?’, ‘I’m hungry’, ‘What should I do tonight?’ •The trick is to shift that attention and focus on the speaker. •Give them your full attention. •Be genuinely interested in them and what they have to say. Here’s a quote from Dale Carnegie extracted from principle 4 of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” “Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.”
Putting your conflict skills into action (2) Active listening - it’s easy to let your mind wander while someone is talking. It’s also natural to focus on how you plan to respond to the speaker rather than giving your full attention. Try active listening to shift focus on listening: • Repeat what they are saying in your head, in your own words. Internalize the meaning of the words. • Summarize what you heard. A great listening technique involves rephrasing the speaker’s words and repeating them back to them. This verifies that you understood what the speaker said, and also gives the speaker a chance to clarify their thoughts. You can start the sentence with “So what I’m hearing you say is” or “Are you saying that“. • Look for the message – Look for key words. Don’t just listen with your ears, but also listen with empathy. Connect with them. There are so much more said than just words alone. Try to ask yourself, what is their point? Where are they coming from? What do they need? What they are saying in words is just an expression, but there’s always an underlying message. Look for that core message.
Putting your conflict skills into action (3)• Ask questions – try to clarify your understanding. People like questions, provided you are conscious of when not to ask questions (for example, you don’t want to interrupt their train of thought by jumping in with questions as they speak). This shows that you are listening and are following them. Look for additional and related information. Some good probing sentence starters are How? Why? For example, “How did it happen?” “And what was your reaction?” “Why did you choose to leave?”• Don’t make judgments – listen with compassion, openness and acceptance. In conversations, we often think about refutes and counter-arguments as the other person speaks. Listen with openness by recognizing that they are expressing themselves, and allow them the freedom to do that. Besides, we don’t want to be judged when we are speaking, so why should we judge others?• Don’t interrupt – let the speaker finish their thoughts. Don’t move on to what you’d like to say until the speaker has finished talking. If you have something to say, bite your tongue and nod. Be patient, wait for your turn. Remember how annoying it was when someone interrupted you? And you lost your train of thought? Give others respect and allow them to finish.
Key points Staying rational when working with a ‘difficult person’ • If youre required to respond to an ‘irrational outburst’, ask the antagonist what exactly she or he is upset about, in order to show that you are interested in communicating rather than in arguing. The burden of responsibility is now back on the antagonist. • If you think the outburst was inappropriate BUT if there’s some truth in the persons complaint you should also say so. Youll overcome your own impulse to jump into the fray by looking for that one small fact about which the critic is correct—and then agreeing with that single point. • You can more easily and tactfully defend yourself once the emotional heat has abated. It’s ok to stand up for yourself by calmly agreeing on a specific error, but refuse to condone the ‘outburst’ or inappropriate behavior.
Key points •Offer to the ‘difficult’ person your best guess as to what he or she is feeling, and ask for feedback. "It sounds like youre angry right now, and Im sorry about that." This demonstrates a willingness to understand the difficult persons frustration without blame or defensiveness. •Resist the urge to fight to win the argument. Listening and asking questions leads others to their own better conclusions. Focus on what can you can take action on. Whatever it is, acknowledge that the situation has already occurred. Rather than harp on what you cannot change, focus on the actionable steps you can take to forward yourself in the situation Self-reflection is a good thing. Don’t just concentrate on action points for the other person but also focus on actions you can do to stop a difficult situation from happening.
Other options Ignore. If you have already tried everything above and the person is still not being receptive, the best way might be to just ignore. After all, you have already done all that you can within your means. Get on your daily tasks and interface with the person only where needed but do so in a calm and polite manner. Of course, this isnt feasible in cases where the person plays a critical role in your work - which leads us to our last tip. Get help from someone else. Remember you can also seek help from your rep, community co-ordinator or from the Local Trust. If you’ve tried everything else this approach can helps to create changes or smooth out a situation as it brings in another perspective but also someone can create an objective and approach and remind you and the other person of any policies or actions that need to be followed.
Other options Other forms of conflict resolution Dispute resolution generally refers to one of several different processes used to resolve disputes between parties, including negotiation, mediation, arbitration... Negotiation strategies Negotiation: is dialogue between two people or more, intended to reach an understanding or resolve a disagreement. Separate the people from the problem. 1.Focus on interests, not positions. 2.Invent options for mutual gain, that is work together to create options that will satisfy both parties. 3.Insist on using objective criteria for judging a proposed solution.
Other options Other forms of conflict resolution (continued) Mediation is a negotiation to resolve differences that is conducted by some impartial party. Mediation is an informal dispute settlement process run by a trained third party, called a ‘mediator’. Mediation is intended to bring two parties together working with a qualified mediator, or a local authority mediation service or through a trusted person who is ‘neutral’ and has mediation skills The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and leading law firms, business and public sector. http://www.cedr.com - email@example.com Check your local authority, parish council, local library or go on line to find out if there is a free mediation services in your areas.
Further reading Psychology Today, ‘Dealing with difficult people’, a short on line article providing some useful tactics and interesting insights on working with difficult people, http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200609/dealing-difficult-people Kent Literacy, ‘Working with difficult people: seven types of difficult people’, - offers an easy read and very brief description of seven types of difficult people, http://literacy.kent.edu/salt_fork/work_people/7types.html PR Daily.com, ‘12 productive ways of dealing with difficult people’ - offers some positive strategies for working with difficult people http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/12_productive_ways_to_deal_with_difficult_people_11680.as px#