Effective Communication for Resolving Conflict
30 minute recorded seminar about conflict resolution
Live two day conflict resolution workshops
In any conflict situation, we have several choices to make. The first choice is whether to avoid or engage. If
you choose to engage, then you can choose to try to force your way and dominate or to work to
resolve the conflict using effective communication techniques?
Use this chart to map out your typical response to conflict and use the conflict resolution information below to
help you map out a better conflict resolution strategy.
Three causes of conflict
This is not intended to be an exhaustive list, but in my experience with thousands of people, most conflicts can
be traced to one of these three root causes.
Mismatched Values Priorities
Simply put, a "value" is what a person believes to be important.
Each person's values are arranged in a hierarchy with the most important value on the top and
the least important value on the bottom. Our research has revealed that people will always seek out
their highest value on the hierarchy.
When people or organizations have different values, or have the same values in a different
order, there is the potential for conflict. The higher the values that are mismatched, the stronger
the conflict will be.
For example here are the natural values hiearchies1 for men and women with regard to
- Sexual fulfillment
- Recreational companionship
- Attractive spouse
- Domestic support
- Honesty and openness
- Financial support
- Family commitment
As you can see (and probably know from experience), because of these different hierarchies,
there is a natural tendency toward conflict. This same thing happens with other values in
The way to resolve a values conflict is to find a higher value than the ones in conflict that
all parties can agree upon. The two primary techniques for doing this are:
- Chunking up and down
- Perceptual positions
Here is another example of values priorities.
Attributing Bad Motives
Are they really out to get you?
Do they really do this just to make you mad?
Examine the motives that you attributing to the other parties in the conflict and then ask
yourself this empowering question:
What else could this mean?
You will be delighted with the answers that you discover!
Failure to Compensate for Different Perspectives
We all have a unique set of values, beliefs, and past experiences that color how we interpret
events. These factors combine to create our “personal perspective”, and these perspectives color
our interpretation of words and events.
It's entirely possible for two people to have exactly the same experience and yet take
completely opposite meanings for the experience.
When we fail to take the time to understand the perspectives of others, the even simplest events
can deteriorate into conflict. Read
Realize this about conflict...
You cannot "fix" other people.
It is difficult enough to change ourselves... and almost impossible to change someone else.
Because you can only control yourself, adopt the first dynamic of effective communication and
take responsibility for the outcome of the situation.
There will always be difficult people.
The problem is not that there are difficult people. The problem is that we expect there NOT to
be difficult people!
Here's now NOT to deal with
YOU are someone else's difficult person.
You may not have realized it before now, but there is a good chance that some one finds it
difficult to get along with you. Stop for a moment and think of who it might be and then decide
what you can do to smooth your relationship with them.
No one can control how you feel.
Unless you let them.
If someone makes you happy or sad, or depressed, or angry, resolve right now not to allow them
to control you in the future. No one can control how you feel unless you give them permission to do
so. Now is the time to take control.
1 - William Harley in His Needs/Her Needs. Highly recommended.