Who decides what’s right and what’s wrong when people disagree or have a problem to solve? How should we behave? Here are four steps for resolving conflicts.

1. Define What Unites

Conflicts are not black and white. They are glorious swirling shades of gray. We are not all right. Nor are we all wrong. In conflict resolution we look for the balance in the situation. Despite the disagreements, usually most parties are fighting for the same principle. We are all trying to reach the same goal, but perhaps each has a different route.

To find what unites all parties, ask yourself:

  • What is our united focus?
  • Despite the conflict what is the single purpose we are trying to achieve?
  • Can we leave other issues outside of this one discussion and not add fuel to the fire by bringing in other issues or conflicts?
  • What am I willing to set aside in order to resolve the conflict?

2. Set The Stage For A Peace

Before conflicts can be addressed, it’s important to create a safe place:

  1. Everyone has an equal voice. No one can dominate by battering.
  2. Everyone’s opinion matters. Really.
  3. Everyone behaves on a mature way, leaving baggage from family of origin behind.
  4. Ethics and principles of fair play are the guides for finding solutions that work for everyone.

3. Do Your Homework

Before you broach the conflict, make sure you can articulate your position. Answering these four questions will help you separate your personal feelings from the higher common good.

  1. How is this one particular conflict affecting the whole group dynamic?
  2. Am I actively listening to others and not reacting to them?
  3. Do I let others voice their opinions and ideas?
  4. Am I helping to find a resolution or hindering by making it all about me?

4. Discuss In A Voice Of Mutual Respect

In a healthy conflict situation, we intentionally set aside our personal power or authority. It’s not about winning or losing but rather arriving at a common destination. During the meeting, all parties should ask themselves to:

  1. Keep an open mind. Respond rather than react to the other parties involved.
  2. Have compassion and understanding for all who are involved in this one issue and conflict.
  3. Show kindness to others whose opinions are different than mine.
  4. Know and acknowledge that there is abundance in the universe. No one has to make fear-based decision.
  5. Stay in the present. Worrying about being left out in the future will impede today’s progress.
  6. Communicate from personal experience. Share what works for you and acknowledge something different may work for another.
  7. Share as an equal. No one is less than the other parties involved and no one is greater.
  8. Stay focused on the matter at hand. Do not get distracted by other unrelated issues.

I have to remind myself that while there is a conflict, I am not being attacked personally, but rather I will work with others to find solutions to the issue at hand. We need this in every area of life.

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Gila Meriwether
Gila is a strategic planner and brand developer. She has a wide range of experience from being the business manager of a mid-size hospital to the case manager in evaluating retired NFL players for the concussion injuries rating. She has worked with national and international companies in the area of board reorganization, re-branding, and public awareness. Gila also brings extensive volunteer experience with local and global non-profit organizations.

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