We all have something that hits us emotionally when someone says something against our own beliefs or values, this is when conflict can start.
I’m no exception to this. Last year a person bought the property behind us with the full knowledge there were trees running all the way along ours and neighbouring properties. His opening comment when he arrived at our door was “I want to come to a compromise regarding the trees”.
No discussion had been held before and no opening gambit concerning tree size was even mentioned, only that he wanted a ‘compromise’ which was possibly not the best way to start a positive relationship with your new neighbours.
With this in mind and memories of historical working ‘disagreements’ I thought I would share my top 6 tips towards conflict resolution:
- “What’s it all about?” Clarity is the key. Not always apparent, maybe a constant niggle which can soon develop. It is imperative to establish, through discussions, what the disagreement is and each side’s stance. Usually we only break through the surface and seldom drill down to the core so an arbitrator (someone who is not affected by either party) is a great person to have to ask incisive questions. If they are not available, both parties should write down every little detail that they feel applies.
- Find the common objective. Take a pragmatic approach rather than relying on emotion. Just for a while, drop the barriers or defence, as I did with the neighbour, take a breath and both sides discuss what each of them would like to see happen. Search for the commonalities and work from these.
- “That won’t work because..” Before you start, establish what the barriers are as these are what need to be worked on/through. What was it that started the conflict and why was it important to take the stance. Once these have been established, then a resolve can be worked towards but they need to be delivered in a logical way rather than emotional. Should there be areas that there is no way to change, discuss methods of getting around the impasse.
- Positive discussions. Avoid debating or arguing who is right or wrong. Now it is time to listen, truly listening to each other and coming together to work towards the common objective. This part is probably one of the hardest parts, especially if the dispute has been building. But it is critical to drop the defence and look to positive outcomes.
- Yellow brick road. Much like the Wizard of Oz story, work towards the end goal and deal with issues along the way and find solutions. What do both parties need to do to reach the objective? What are the common grounds to work with? Reflect back on what the catalyst was to insure there is purpose behind reaching the objective together.
- Own it. Insure that both parties understand what their responsibilities are to reach the agreed goal. From an NLP perspective, it is important to verbalise your own responsibilities rather than being told them. Use your own words and actually saying them out loud, the likelihood of making them work is massively increased. Sentences such as “I agree to take responsibility for…”.
This is much easier when a dispute is in its infancy, however, when items have started to really set root, these steps need to be revisited regularly and often at each stage along the agreed path.
Talking of roots, we did have a tree surgeon come round and lop some off the top and all overhanging branches to their side. Possibly not to the degree they wanted but that was what he wanted – a compromise!
If you are having a dispute where there doesn’t appear to be a reasonable outcome either yourself or members of your team, contact Neil on 07761 187238 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, where you will be assured a warm, friendly welcome and discuss what it is you wish to achieve.