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Collaborating in Conflict

When it comes to problem-solving during a conflict we seem to use different styles depending on a number of variables. These may include who the conflict is with, the nature of the issues, and whether the relationship or outcome are more important to us. Other factors may be the degree of acrimony and the intensity of the interaction. Depending on these and other variables, we may respond by avoiding, accommodating the other person’s needs, compromising, fighting to win, cooperating, or collaborating.

When especially stressed and feeling uncertain about what to do, we may default to approaches that do not serve us well. Generally though, it seems we tend to favour one or more styles that are familiar and that have worked for us. Or, we may choose habits that are not effective, but we have not worked on changing them.

Collaboration is one form of conflict management that reflects a popular view of a way to satisfy the needs and interests of both (or all) disputing parties. “It means digging into an issue to pinpoint the underlying needs and wants of the two individuals. Collaborating between two persons might take the form of exploring a disagreement to learn from each other’s insights or trying to find a creative solution to an interpersonal problem.”

The following ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) help explore whether a collaborative or other approach may suit you and the conflict you have in mind.

  • How do you describe the approach that reflects your most common conflict management style?
  • How has this style worked for you? Not worked for you?
  • In general, what ways are you collaborative, according to the definition above? Under what circumstances are you not collaborative?
  • Considering a dispute you are currently involved in, how will you measure success in this situation? How do you think the other person may measure success?
  • What outcome may be mutually acceptable?
  • What collaborative approach is likely to settle matters?
  • In what ways do you like the idea of a collaborative approach for this situation?
  • What don’t you like about a collaborative approach for this situation?
  • What approach may be more suited to the situation than collaborating? Why do you think that is the case?
  • If you want to become stronger as a collaborator (in circumstances you consider that approach appropriate), what would you do as a first action step to further develop that area?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

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