If you want your relationships to thrive, you have to be able to deal with conflict. Getting to a win/win solution always makes all parties happy because everyone gets what he wants. So how do you do that? Let’s take a look.
Be Willing to Talk
If one person is not willing to talk, you can’t get to a win/win. One person can stall talks so nothing bad happens, but nothing good will happen either. One party can frustrate negotiations by bogging things down with extraneous details, rambling, or not being open to hear the other side. Another stall tactic is becoming emotional so that the other preson backs down. This happens when one person really isn’t willing to look at the issues. Getting to a win/win solution requires that both parties be willing to participate.
Set Up and Abide by the Rules of the Game
Many times people aren’t willing to negotiate because they fear that it won’t be fair or productive. Setting up and abiding by the rules of the game makes negotiation safe, fair, and productive. Here are some rules that you might like to adopt.
- Use a code word when you need to signal a time out. This should be an odd word that you don’t normally say. This is more effective than saying, “Hey, can we take a time out?” because the unusual word changes your mental state. In order for this to be effective, both parties must honor it when it is used. You must also agree to pick up the conversation again at a reasonable interval – such as within 24 hours. This assures both parties that it is not a “get out of jail free” card.
- Limit the time you spend on presenting your point of view and negotiating. Marathon fights can make anyone dread them. Learning to keep it short makes you focus and can lead to more effective problem solving.
- Stick to one thing at a time. Opening the door to every wrong thing leads to marathon fights where nothing gets resolved. If you resolve one issue at a time, you will find that you have fewer unresolved issues hanging over your head.
- Set aside regular time for “airing of grievances.” It’s easy to let other things take precedence. This can lead to problems piling up. Over time this is very damaging. If you have 30 minutes per week to deal with one or two problems, you will always feel like you’re making progress.
- Be respectful. People avoid conflict because they are afraid of being hurt. When you show your friends, family, partner, or coworkers that you can handle your own emotions and will respect theirs, they will be more willing to talk things out with you. So, no name calling. No blaming, raised voices, ultimatums, or criticism. Don’t interrupt or contradict.
Define the Problem
When you’re trying to fix something, it helps when both people know what is the problem and what is the end goal. Also realize that sometimes there isn’t a problem. Sometimes people just need to vent their frustrations and there is no issue to resolve. If you can’t tell the difference, ask “What would you like from me?” or “How can I help with this?” or something similar.
Brainstorming is about generating ideas. They don’t have to make sense or be practical. It’s about getting creative. Often people have problems because the logical or habitual responses don’t work. This is why you want to get creative. You need to do something different.
Entertain Your Options
This is where all sides discuss the brainstormed options to see which ones they are willing to try. Only the ones that are an enthusiastic “yes” are to be adopted. DO NOT COMPROMISE. Compromise is not a win/win, but a lose/lose. When people give up something to get something, they are more likely to not uphold their end of the game. They are also more likely to not really support the solution or the end goal. When you have a win/win, both sides are ecstatic so they abide by the agreement.
Write Down the Agreement
This is about accountability. One person might forget what they agreed to. Or the problem may resurface later. If it does, you can go back to the original negotiation to see what you already talked about to see what didn’t work. This will help you from reinventing the wheel.
Implement the Agreement
It’s not enough to have an agreement. You have to implement it. The problem is not resolved until you do something or stop doing something.
When you have a working strategy for conflict resolution, you don’t have to avoid problems. You can easily generate solutions that take you to a better place. This strategy also neutralizes the desire to dominate or control. It’s about focusing on what is good for everyone and the big picture. This leads to greater happiness. Try it.