There are guidelines for conflict resolution that can help lead to positive outcomes even if your opponent is a little angry. The guideline stand on their own but are even more likely to lead to success if you, first of all, centre on the equality of yourself and your opponent. You both want a satisfactory outcome and you both want to avoid any suffering. The main danger to reaching consensus is the cultural influence on you to be competitive and win some advantage over the opponent, who is also under the same influence. To avoid a contest, it may be necessary to convince the opponent of the advantages of reaching a consensus.
However, it would be rare for both parties to be centred on equality, so your opponent may be intent on winning and not at all interested in equality. If you remain centred and prepared to be assertive about equality, you are in a strong position to gain a fair outcome, and turn an ‘enemy’ into a friend. Therefore, when faced with a conflict, the first thing to do is remember that equality is the true ground for human relationships, and be firm about aiming for an outcome consistent with that base.
Once you are centred, there are four guidelines to peaceful conflict resolution. It’s ironic that if these guidelines were used to guide everyday communication between people, there would be few negative conflicts to resolve. The guidelines for conflict resolution (or for avoiding negative conflicts) are:
· Respect the other person.
· Listen until the other person’s views are understood.
· Be open and honest in sharing your own views.
· Make agreements for the common good. (Seek win/win solutions)
Respecting the other is part of centring on equality but is listed again so people who do not believe in equality can still use the guidelines.
Listening to understand the other’s point of view can help to calm an angry person who expects an argument, not an interested listener. It also gives you the right to be heard.
Being open and honest can be a bit risky but shows trust in the opponent that may lead to cooperation.
Respect, listening and honesty, along with asserting the need for a fair solution, is likely to result in consensus.
Bob Myers, author of Travelling the Road of Peace and Happiness.