One of the most important qualities I learned during my management years, is conflict resolution. It is a mandatory trait for a leader to be able to remain calm and objectively identify the interests in all parties, and propose a method that delivers satisfaction to all involved. Having the ability to resolve conflicts gives you a reputation that makes people long for your presence. It will also dramatically increase your networking capacity with friends and enemies of friends. Consequently, you become the person that maintains peace between everyone, who all end up heavily relying on you during disagreements. All these points converge into one element that will serve you substantially in the future; power.
Eliminate Your Neuroticism
Before you walk into a conflict, know that negative emotions will make everything infinitely worse. So an assessment of yourself is crucial before you can learn to resolve conflicts. If you are high on the spectrum of neuroticism, then you are sensitive to negative emotions. And so subsequently, your ability to calm a situation will be impaired. Those who are low on neuroticism and are extroverted are better suited for the quality of conflict resolution. A situation that entails conflict requires intervention through neutral/positive emotions and objectivity. This doesn’t mean that not everyone can learn conflict resolution. But those prone to negative emotions will need to exercise their degree of sensitivity. This is best achieved through psychoanalytic separation of emotions and applying shadow integration. A topic I extensively discuss in THE LOBBY .
Set The Rules
It is crucial for you to set the rules of what you tolerate as acceptable behavior from the beginning. Especially if you are prone to negative emotions. The ‘negotiation’ rules you set will force everyone involved to behave. And this will insulate you from having to raise your own temper or express discomfort if the rules were otherwise absent and the parties would misbehave. Rule setting also forces those at conflict to respect each other by abiding by the negotiation rules. So make it clear that there is to be no;
- raising voices
- hurling insults
The aim is to create an atmosphere where intentions and interest can be expressed clearly. Then to come up with a strategy that aims to deliver what the parties want upon making concessions, without unnecessary disruptions and aggravations. These rules and boundaries will reflect the substance of your character, of who you are and that you mean business. Your degree of enforcement of the rules is directly proportional to their improvement in behavior. Provided that you maintain a neutral alliance with everyone involved. The the more they adhere to the rules, the higher the probability in which consensus, and therefore, conflict resolution can be reached.
If you decide to become a conflict resolver, your job will be to solve a problem between two or more parties. Your position will occupy a neutral stance with your interest solely aligned with resolving the conflict. Favoring a side over another will disqualify you from mediating conflict resolution and consequently identify you as an instrument to someone’s interest. So you have to remain set on the objective of reaching consensus. The challenge here is assessing what constitutes fair value exchange in which both parties could settle for. Ideally, you want the parties to walk away with 50/50 weight in what they received and what they had to compensate for.
This post is a comprehensive measure that applies to moderate to high level conflicts in business meetings, and it’s improbable that you will need to reach such analysis to deliver settlements. Nevertheless, it’s important to keep in mind that your responsibility as a conflict resolver is to reach a consensus that would yield fair value to all parties. Therefore, to a degree, it will require you to apply some mathematical thinking to conclude what constitutes fairness.
So your job is to weigh up what the parties need and whether there is a possibility of an exchange that could lead to a consensus. Usually, this entails sacrifices on both sides. This is where you will get the most amount of backlash where neither party wants to make any concessions on their end. What you’re witnessing here is the raw, primal human behavior; a desire to get what they want and give nothing in return.
If you want to compel someone to give up something, it helps to understand their temperament. Highly neurotic people are sensitive to negative emotions. The best method with these types is to layout the consequences of what would happen if they don’t compensate. The prospect of ‘consequences’ would compel them to make adjustments. Extroverted people appeal to positive emotions, which means they are likely to compensate if you promise them something that triggers a ‘happy state’. Remember that you occupy a neutral stance. Play this to your advantage by expressing that you have no vested interest in anyone. Your objective outlook will radiate towards those involved to further influence them to reach an agreement.
With this kind of knowledge, it becomes easier to guide those who are in conflict by using options that appeals to them and consequently motivate them to make concessions. I have used this often at work, where I have switched weekend jobs to introverted people who prefer the extra dollars, and given extroverted people time off (needless to say, who end up partying). What people are afraid of and appeal to, and their sensitivity to both, is crucial information in conflict resolution and negotiations. Read this PIECE on negotiation written by Illimitable Man relevant to this topic.
Human emotions, shadow integration, behavioral compulsion and influence is regularly discussed & analyzed in The Lobby Room. Subscribe to become a member.