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Managing Conflict

In a climate where 90% of communication happens in non-verbal ways, conflict is bound to occur. While tone, inflection, pitch and intention can easily be misconstrued, there are ways to ensure that what you intend to convey is received and conflict avoided.

For the sake of clarity lets agree that no one method will resolve all conflict. Utilization of structured steps, however, will create a framework to greatly reduce and quickly diffuse issues. If a harmonious environment, elimination of 'surprise' or 'fear' responses, and reduction of stress is your desire, these simple steps exist to guide attainment.

1. Seek first to understand the biases, perceptions and triggers of both self and the audience. This approach will assist with creation of messages that are coded, delivered, received and understood easily.

2. Verbalize the needs of all involved parties. Harvard Law School provides a great guide on negotiations. Here. Understanding the substantive, procedural and psychological needs is integral to a positive outcome.

3. Clarify what EXACTLY the agreement is. You may find that what you thought was the problem is something else entirely. Remove emotions from this statement, simply give voice to the perceived issue and its potential impact.

4. Establish common goals. Agree to meet at a safe, mutual location. Listen to understand and speak to be understood. Take notes and ask clarifying questions to be sure that there are no semantic or subjective impositions of personal bias.

5. Discuss ways to reach the stated goal of the original communication. Use, "I need" statements and "what do you need" questions to get to a mutually agreeable space.

6. Determine barriers to goal attainment. Be flexible, open and judgement free here. Take this opportunity to express every possible idea relative to the goal.

7. Agree on the best way to resolve the conflict. give consideration to needs, goals and barriers and democratically determine the most viable solution. Think "

BATNA- Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement

WATNA- Worst Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement and

MLATNA- Most Likely Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement

8. Acknowledge the agreed upon solution and determine the responsibilities and roles of each involved party. If the agreed upon solution was not a unanimous one, determine what interval should lapse prior to revisiting. Establish measures and evaluation means here.

If you approach this process with an open mind and expectation of success, the results will prove positive and beneficial to all. Now go forth! Communicate clearly, allow open participation and achieve greatness as a unit!

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