In the spirit of summer vacations, consider conflict as a journey to regain something we feel has been lost or taken from us. In the final chapter of The Joy of Conflict Resolution, entitled “Tips for the Traveler”, I asked a number of valued and respected colleagues to share tips on how they integrated conflict resolution skills in their lives. Here are a few:
One of most helpful things I did was to create a self-talk script to replace my gremlins. I picked a particular situation in which I found myself triggered by my supervisor’s constant use of the word “but” in conversations with me. To avoid reacting, I told myself “Breathe. She’s trying to tell me her needs. Listen for them. Be curious. This will pass.” I repeated this mantra chant over and over until I was able to genuinely respond productively to her in conversation. Although she didn’t change, our working relationship did.
Raj Dhasi, mediator/trainer/coach
Don’t be afraid to make a mess
After over fifteen years of professional conflict resolution, I would advise people new to this approach to “ignore perfection.” It’s annoying and unrealistic. Conflict is supposed to be messy. If the clashing of opposing interests is too neat and tidy, there’s something that hasn’t surfaced yet. Let yourself get dirty. Then help each other clean it up.
Roy Johnson, mediator/psychotherapist
Taking risks and trusting your gut
Learning conflict resolution skills does not elevate us to sainthood or perfection. I give myself permission to be a human being instead of a human doing‑to feel, get angry, and take risks. To be courageous for me. This gives me permission to escape “doing it perfectly by the book” and supports me to try something different. More and more I find myself trusting my instinct and intuition and bringing more creativity to conflict resolution.
Jory Faibish, certified mediator/trainer/architect