Conflict exists when one person has a need of the other and that need is not being met. One person has to change for the relationship to stay. It is the friction between individuals due to differences in opinion, ideas, beliefs, values, needs or objectives.
First mind-set is the fundamental attribute bias. We take a 'dispositional' rather than situational view of others. We argue that most people act the way they do because of uncontrollable personality factors (their disposition) as opposed to doing what they do because of forces on them in their environment (their situation). Consequently, we believe that others do bad things because of personality flaws whereas we do bad things because the devil made us do it.
|Fundamental Attribute Bias:
“Where ever possible, we explain other people’s behaviour in terms of internal causes, and our own as external“(Jones & Davies 1975)
Quite often conflict is about them and not about you. And when you think it's all about you and not about them - then it's all about you
(McNab, et al., 2014)
|Don’t have an issue with you||About Them||About Them||Have and Issue with you|
|About nothing||Possibly About You|
Our Approach to Conflict
The Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) looks at each person’s behaviour around conflict situations—and looks at the styles we take.
Keeping a disagreement from becoming an argument
(Carnagie, 1970) from Bits and Pieces, The Economic Press, NJ
- Welcome the disagreement
- Distrust your first instinctive impression
- Control your temper
- Listen first
- Look for areas of agreement
- Be honest - admit to your errors and say so. Apologise for your mistakes
- Promise to think over your opponent's ideas and study them carefully
- Postpone action to give both sides time to think through the problem
How to avoid getting hooked into an argument:
- Spot the triggers
- You may be in your rights to respond forcefully, but before doing so, what is in your best interest?
- Focus on the facts of the issue rather than the emotion that may lie behind it
- Avoid interpreting what they say about the issue as what they may or may not think about you. Also make sure that you don't say anything which could be misinterpreted as declaring what you think about them
- a) Accusation and recrimination; shouting and yelling
- b) Criticising the person, rather than their behaviour
- c) Labelling people, or calling names
- d) Moaning and groaning to others
- e) Bringing others in
When dealing with conflict we can take 3 approaches: (Alasko, et al., 2008)
- Avoidant - hiding feelings, running for cover. Either you ignore your needs or find a covert, hidden way to satisfy them
- Aggressive-- attack. You can't let go of anything
- Unpredictable - you partner is always on edge on how things will go
Typical conflict components
|1. The Caustic Opener
|In tone and words
|2. Mind-Reading||What assumptions are you making - and clarify them - When you say 'we' do you mean 'me?|
|4. That's you all over - Labelling
|o "Look, the washing up is just left in the sink. That's typical of you - you don't care what state what state we live in”
o “Eating another piece of cake? No wonder you're such a fat slob”
o “Why can't we just relax”
o Stick to specifics. Move from labelling the person, to the situation. Not 'you're lazy' but 'I thought you said you would do XYZ'
o Test this 'Do you really think I’m useless around the house or is it just my skills with shelves that aren't up to much?
|5. The Blame Game||
|7. Looking with difference lenses on the situation||
|8. You're fighting a proxy battle||
|9. What I mean, not what I say||
|10. Irreconcilable Differences||
(Alasko, Emotional Bullshit)
Most problems in relationships develop
because the people don't follow any rules of conflict resolution
- Decide what you need from the situation to have the right attitude
- I need to build my relationship and bring this person closer to me
- I always need serenity
- Before beginning the process ask for permission
- You must first ask if they are available for a discussion
- Don't ask if the other is (HALT) - distracted, tired, hungry, upset, or unavailable
- Starting a conversation without asking permission is the equivalent of getting into a car and driving off without saying where you're going, how far away it is or the purpose of going there
- Ask directly for what you need using one sentence that can be asked with a yes, no or maybe
- Avoid questions starting with 'why'
- Avoid generic 'I want you to be honest'
- Maybe is an okay answer
- Control your emotions throughout the process
- Tolerate discomfort. Deep breaths
- Take turns in discussing the request, without interruption, using only respectful words
If someone says, 'I don't have time to sit and do this', but they have plenty of time to dedicate to other pursuits, then remind them that "going through the negative alternative (separation or divorce) will take a lot more time"
You need to feel safe at all times.
This is away from the fear of not being loved, or not being respected or the fear of losing the relationship.
"Nothing will work, no information or emotion can be communicated if the person offering or receiving doesn't feel safe", it needs 3 promises:
- The promise that no one will be emotionally attacked or abused
- The promise that both parties’ feelings will be respected
- The promise that there will be no retaliation for what is said within the context of constructive conflict outside the session
How to keep rapport in difficult situation
|Focus on listening||Don’t talk more than you listen|
|Simplify your language||Don’t confuse with jargon and make sure language is not open to misinterpretation|
|Talk positively||Stress what you can do, not what can’t be done|
|Give space physically and metaphorically||Don’t push the other into a corner and allow them to save face|
|Minimise ‘trigger’ language||Take care of words that might escalate the situation|
|Don’t argue||This will become a no-win situation|
So, to address conflict remember: (Ready, et al., 2004)
- Rapport comes first. Without rapport, no one listens to you. Match their body language and pace their behaviour
- People need to trust you before they're ready to open up on difficult issues.
- Make sure you're clear about what you're trying to achieve your outcome- while you ask questions as you can become overloaded with irrelevant information and cease to be helpful.
- Soften your voice and be sensitive to your questioning. Feed questions gently into the conversation rather than firing
How to have disagreement with your partner and remain friends
Source Life Skills International
|Fair behaviour||Unfair behaviour|
A Time-Out means that you go away for 30 to 60 minutes to process and return calmly to ﬁnish the discussion or whatever you have agreed upon previously. Many times, the conflict was too small to even have to ﬁnish or discuss further.
Many of the unfair behaviour patterns are things that we learned as children against other children and our parents. Learning fair rules is a part of growing up.
Tactics for dealing with differences
|Area of Conflict||When it’s you||When it’s others|
|Chemistry – ‘I don’t like you’||Do they also think it is a problem? If so, you need to speak to them
If not, then convince yourself you can get on with them
|Get time in each other’s company|
|Behaviours/ style – ‘I don’t like the way you do things’||See their strengths||Give feedback and profile to show the differences|
|Philosophy / Values – ‘I don’t like what you stand for’||Recognise the difference, and that they believe in their values as much as you.
If beliefs don’t match the community / organisation you were with = then it’s a problem and monitor when it breaks
|Look for the common ground|
|Conflict of interest – ‘I will work to prevent you being successful, because a gain for you is inevitably a loss for me’||Often this is about structure or process in the community or organisation you are in
Look for compromise
|Look at reciprocity
Look to change the systems
Help show the different perspectives
|Injury – ‘I don’t like what you did’||Allowing things to fester will only store up trouble
They might not know they’ve done wrong
Look for support if you don’t like
|Get both parties to work together with an objective mediator|
|Prejudice – I don’t like your type of person||A prejudice is an unreasonable judgement based on little knowledge or experience of the individual or group of people concerned. It becomes harmful when it creates negative actions against others||It is difficult to prove or deal with
Be alert, explain how it appears to you and the other people involved, using examples.
Remind people of the law
|Jealousy – ‘I don’t like you’||It is a natural emotion. What precisely are you envious of? You have strengths too, and others could be jealous of those||Try to get to the root cause|