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In this approach, one person relates to another solely in terms of their respective roles at work, not as human beings. The needs of the subordinate party are ignored, and this person's specific problems are not addressed. This approach can perpetuate an unfair system by blocking opportunities for change. It also creates an adversarial relationship when the subordinate person's contributions are not honored.
In contrast to these ineffective and destructive approaches to conflict resolution, we can develop strategies that respect and honor all parties involved. In these new strategies, all people focus directly on the specific issues involved instead of looking for ways to avoid or ignore them.
In this mutual-benefit approach, in which both conflicting parties are viewed as conflict partners, the overriding objective is to meet the needs of the ongoing relationship and of each individual.
If you employ any of the five ineffective approaches to resolution, you may consider developing new communicative and behavioral strategies toward conflict.
Kevin Boileau, Ph.D., J.D., LL.M., is a Seattle psychotherapist and lawyer who specializes in cooperative conflict resolution for individuals and businesses. He is the CEO of BPI Consulting Group Inc. and is publishing a book on ethics in 2006. Visit kevinboileau.com or bpiconsulting.net. To reach Boileau, call (206) 297-9137.
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