Making peace - Managing conflict

Irritated? Frustrated? Angry? Ready to explode? You are not alone. Whether it's an argument, aggravated due to traffic, disagreement on how to do a job, conflict is a part of life. Conflict produces stress, hurts friendships, and can cause injury & death. We cannot always avoid conflict, but we can learn to manage it without violence. We can use conflict to improve our lives & to learn from past mistakes.

Do it yourself 
Understand your own feelings about conflict. Recognize your "Trigger" words or actions that immediately provoke an emotional response, like anger. It could be facial expression, a tone of voice, a pointing finger, a certain phrase. Once you know your "triggers", you can better control your emotions.

Active listening. Go beyond hearing just words. Try to understand what the other person is saying. Listen carefully instead of thinking of what to say next. Active listening requires concentration & body language that says that you’re paying attention. Generating options for resolving a conflict. Many people thing of two ways to manage conflict, fighting or avoiding the problem. Get that facts straight. Brainstorm all ideas that may help resolve the argument. Discuss the pros, cons, & consequences.

Move from confrontation toward agreement 
Look at your response to conflict. If your style isn't working, your raging emotions can lead to more problems. Try to change.

State your needs & define the problem. Talk about the issues without insulting or blaming the other person. Don’t state your position. That’s your solution to the problem. Take a look at what’s said (position), with what is really meant (needs). Together, discuss various ways of meeting needs or solving the problem. Be flexible & open minded.

Decide who will be responsible for a specific action after reaching an agreement on a plan.

Tips for making peace 

  • Choose a convenient time
  • Plan ahead
  • Talk directly
  • Don’t blame or name call
  • Give information
  • Listen
  • Show that you are listening
  • Talk it through
  • Work on a solution
  • Follow through

If you can’t work it out - get help 
Try mediation. People are turning towards mediation to help resolve disputes. Mediators do not make decisions, they help people make their own decisions. In mediation sessions, a neutral third person helps the parties in conflict resolve their problem. Mediators are detached & unbiased. They may be professionals or volunteers who have undergone intensive training. Mediators do not dictate a settlement; they encourage dialog, provide guidance, & help the parties define areas of agreement & disagreement. Mediation is confidential.

Try arbitration. In arbitration, the neutral third party acts as a judge. The arbitrator hears evidence from all sides, asks questions, and hands down a decision. Usually, the arbitrator’s decision is final. A panel of arbitrators may make decisions by majority vote.

Where to find help

  • Schools, Colleges, Universities.
  • Local or state consumer protection offices.
  • Community or neighborhood dispute resolution centers.
  • Local government. District Attorney, Small Claims Court, Family Services.
  • Better Business Bureau.
  • Private organizations listed in the phone directory, Arbitration or Mediation Services.
  • Law school legal clinics.
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