Conflict Resolution Skills Can Be Learned

Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem

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Fear of conflict is common.

We are anxious when we recall past quarrels and disagreements that resulted in personal injury, either physical or emotional. We remember feeling frightened, defeated and powerless.

To avoid repeating the experience, we can become passive, agreeable or accepting.

We try to please the challenger, so they do not strike out again. We believe we have some power over the other person's outbursts thinking; “If I change. . . things will be better. "

We may withdraw from the situation, believing the problem will be solved with time.

Withdrawal, not talking or avoiding contact can also be a attempt at control. Solutions are not possible with the other person absent.

Acting in these ways will not help the situation improve.

Problems need to be solved to go away. Unresolved power struggles resurface disguised in different situations.

If we verbally and physically beat on others, we have not accepted personal responsibility for our behaviour. We think others control us.

Someone else “makes" me angry. We are really saying; “I do not have control over myself. "

When we lash out at the ideas others present, we reveal our own anxiety. This insecurity can lead to frightening, overpowering behaviour.

Conflict can only be resolved without name calling, hitting, threats of bodily harm and undermining the other person's self esteem. An atmosphere of safety is necessary.

Each person must gain control over their own behaviour.

We must choose to accept responsibility for our thoughts, words and deeds. We have the power to change ourselves!

Identifying a specific problem is the first step to solving it.

Resolving a deep problem often means solving smaller superficial differences first.

We must also let go of the idea that there is always a winner and a loser.

When we think we know the one “right" way, we limit our ability to negotiate. Gaining suitable results, requires a struggle to find common ground. All parties involved need to commit to solving the problems.

By sticking to the issues, using examples to make our points and communicating our wants clearly, specific areas needing resolution can be pin pointed. A desire to resolve the difference must be honestly present in each person.

Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem M. Ed. , is a registered marriage and family therapist and consults to families in business on issues related to workplace relationships. She is the author of books on personal growth through travel.


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