MPI Chicago Area Chapter

Ask the Expert - Conflict Resolution

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Simply stated, confliction resolution is problem solving involving people working to find the motivation for a conflict and the solution that will satisfy the emotional needs of those involved. This is something you see constantly in the news involving political advisories who have a very strong conviction concerning a matter and seem to believe that only their solution is viable and appear to refuse to consider any other solution.

The source of the conflict can come from either a true issue or it can be directly related to the distaste of another individual. When it becomes obvious that it is a personal conflict, the solutions become very limited as the reputation of each individual in the conflict are at stake. In order to reach a solution, you must have both or all of those involved give you their genuine reason for their position and what other solutions would they accept other than those currently being proposed.

Just as you see many international issues being played out right now, any solution you propose must allow each party involved to “save face” so they can continue to be viable at home and have a solution they can actually implement. This is the largest part of any solution that will be practical. If one of the parties has the desire to win at any cost just to prove a point, their position it will later become difficult as their advisory will work to find a way to repay them for their position.

When a conflict involves ideology, there can only be a solution if you are dealing with someone who has the capacity to think in terms larger than themselves. This is where you see great leaders emerge who have the ability to look beyond the past and truly have a vision to change the future for the benefit of everyone involved.

If you are going to be the one to facilitate a solution, remember that such discussions should always be done in private at a time when there is the minimal amount of stress and interruptions. One way of creating an atmosphere for success is to use a technique used in labor negotiations when meetings were held involving a heavy meal. The effect of a heavy meal will make people less active and make it easier to propose ideas that may now appear to be more acceptable.

To be successful at any important situation you must truly know and understand the people involved and know what they have as their goal. It is also important to remember that while you are creating a solution, now you must also be able to implement it and work to create a relationship for future opportunities. Continuing an ongoing relationship is much easier than constantly having to find new partners to start the process and not knowing what level of success is possible.