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Methods of Looking at Conflict Resolution

 
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In the book Are We Done Fighting? by Matthew Legge, the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument is shown as one possible way to look at the ways that conflicts can be solved. Different situations may call for different modes.


(source)

In this model, there is one axis for assertiveness and another for cooperativeness. In the bottom corner (neither assertive nor cooperative) is avoidance, and this may be good for situations where the relationship and outcome do not matter. In the top left corner (assertive but not cooperative) is contending, which may be good for situations where the outcome is the most important but not the relationship. In the bottom right corner (cooperative but not assertive) is accommodating, and this could be useful when the relationship is more important than the outcome. In the top right corner (fully assertive and fully cooperative) is collaborating, which is most likely helpful when the relationship and outcome are highly valued. Whereas, in the middle (partially assertive and partially cooperative) is compromising, and that could be helpful when relationships and outcomes are valued, with likely some major time constraints in the background preventing thorough communication.

Some of the other tools brought up in the book Are We Done Fighting? include:
-Recognizing the events that are occurring
-Recognizing feelings that people have
-Recognizing the needs that people have

Another thing that was brought up in the book is about how the energies of conflict may be "transformed" instead of being "resolved" through a ritual or ceremony.

What are some other methods of looking at and understanding the processes of conflict resolution? Formally or informally?
 
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I know of an area farm that had significant land, and on both sides of the road they were on. Two brothers owned the farm, and did equal work, but when the Oldest Brother's son got old enough to have a home of his own, he put a house on the other side of the road than what the Father lived on.

The third world war started.

In the end what the real problem was, was a power struggle. The incensed brother THOUGHT that his side of the road would be his, for his teenage son someday, and that the Oldest Brother was encroaching on him, and looked at his farm contribution as being petty.

This took several years to solve, but eventually the war ended when the incensed brother realized, he was appreciated, and that there was no real effort to control the farm by the Oldest Brother. Really all it was, was the location was ideal to put a house, and the son needed it now. But no mistake about it, the Power Struggle was VERY real, it was just that there was no ulterior motives.

My point is: most times conflict starts when there is a sense that one's contribution is overlooked. That is why I am very leery of partnerships, and especially if I am approached to be part of one. I think inevitable, there will be a sense that I, or the other person, will feel they are pulling more of the weight, and only getting 50% of the profit. That can cause severe conflict.
 
Travis Johnson
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I have found...much later than I should have I admit, that people respect you, when you understand them. This goes a longggggggggggggggg ways in conflict resolution, or in never having generated conflict in the first place.

While I could NEVER list all the people on permies I have a lot of respect for, just as an example, two of the people I have a great deal of respect for is Elle Sagenev, and Pearl Sutton. Now again, I am using these two as example to explain my point, but in no way does this mean many, many, many others on here do not get a lot of respect from me. If your name was not listed, yes I would most likely buy you coffee, or give you a hug still.

In Elle's case, we have a lot in common, and our lives mirror each others pretty well, but there is one particular way that we farm that few others do. Yet it is because of that, that she understands why I farm that way, and in turn why I understand why she does. From that, I have an enormous amount of respect for her. Because, well...she understand's me...

With Pearl, we have medical issues (she has shared this on Permies so I do not feel this is an injustice, and out of line to say), and so again, she understands what I am going through. Through understanding me, I appreciate, and respect her for that.

Now there are a ton of other reason's I appreciate these two people, but in the interest of brevity, and staying on this topic of conflict resolution, I will keep it to that (for now)

Understanding means there was concise communication at one point, and communication is always the antecedent to conflict resolution.

Hopefully this makes sense, and I do not sound like I am using phyco-babble here.
 
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Really interesting model! I've worked in social services with people experiencing quite a lot of conflict and I would've liked to have seen this model sooner!

I think it may be important to point out that the model shows both conflict behaviors (contending, avoiding and accommodating) as well as conflict resolution behaviors (compromising and collaborating). The numbers 0/0 to 100/100 indicate how much each side is basically benefiting from that behavior. Avoidance is 0/0, or lose-lose. Contending and accommodating means one side loses out for the benefit of the other (100/0 or 0/100). Compromising means both sides split the benefits (50/50), and collaborating means both sides reap full benefits (100/100).

This certainly rings true in my work with families going through lots of distress and conflict. Only compromise and collaboration really result in the conflict being put to rest, while the other behaviors just mean the conflict is put on hold. We don't often get the real resolutions of compromise or collaboration, but we can try our best to prepare people for the eventuality that they will need to face the conflict one day.

Travis actually gets at two really major factors to get people ready to deal productively with conflict: communication and respect. Another one which I think comes before those is introspection: you have to know what is keeping you in the conflict before you can be open to resolving it.

How compromise and collaboration work in reality can be really varied. If you really want to get creative with this model, I can see how you can have a range of situations between a 50/50 compromise and 100/100 collaboration. Perhaps an interesting example of this is here in New Zealand in the Pasifika and Maori Youth Courts. They've been set up in acknowledgement of the marginalization, disadvantage and systemic racism faced by Pacific Island and Indigenous Maori youths that have led to their overrepresentation in crimes (largely due to their overrepresentation in poverty). It is part compromise in that it is still governed and based on a Western legal system, but it incorporates cultural concepts like the importance of shame or mana (kind of a mix between respect, pride and face) as well as cultural practices like have the wrong-dooer's whole family apologise to the wronged individual's whole family. The "punishments" can thus be cultural in nature and carry the same weight and effect as a jail sentence or fine. However, it's not full collaboration because it is only in cases where a young person accepts their guilt, and it doesn't apply to very serious charges where the young person is tried as an adult.

A funnier thought I have is this: where on the model would you put people who choose to publicise their conflict in a forum like a daytime talkshow or have a big flamewar on social media?

Happy to hear what others think and glad you brought this topic up, Dave!
 
Travis Johnson
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I think there are some small things that help in conflict resolution, but it is kind of a Catch 22; the people that regularly do these things do not have a lot of conflict, so it never really rises to the point of crisis.

The first is pretty much staying mum. I get upset at Katie for some of the things she does, BUT I have learned that many times if I just stay silent, over time I just let the infraction go, and in time it never really bothers me. I do not agree that it inevitably crops up later, because it seems most of the time, what she does or says is important at the moment it happens, but in the overall scheme of things, it is not. Usually after a few hours I think to myself, 'I am glad I did not say anything'.

I have always said that, "You should always speak the truth, but the truth does not always have to be said." I think the most conflict-driven statement in this century has been from the phrases, "I was just saying", or "I am just telling the truth." Well that is what children and drunk people do; the prudent often stay mum.
 
Travis Johnson
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Another form of conflict resolution Katie and I practice is not telling our parents about each other's infractions. If you are married, or in a long term relationship, this is super important, and here is why.

If Katie does something that angers me...hurts me emotionally even...if I tell that to my parents, they are likewise hurt. Why would they not be? As my parents they love me deeply, and so they are hurt. And it starts this seed of animosity. They start to think, "I cannot believe Katie would do that and really hurt our son." And with each infraction, that seed of indigence grows and grows. Then eventually they grow to dislike Katie because the hurt is really substantial, they start thinking, "How could Katie really love our son if she does all that to him?"

But Katie does love me. As a married couple, we have issues, and yet because I love Katie back, I forgive her, and she forgives me. This is a healthy, normal part of a committed relationship. So if I was to tell my parents Katie's infractions, in just a few days I will forgive her and get over it, but my parents never will. I mean Katie hurt their son!

So Katie and I do not do that, but man oh man, a lot of people do. They do not realize what is casually called "husband or wife bashing" is not merely idle word-vomiting, but incredibly self-destructive to the relationship. That is the sort of thing you can do with your best friend or something, but never with your parents or immediate family.

Edited to say: I NEVER once mentioned being physically hurt. Physical abuse is NOT love, nor a committed relationship. Never keep physical abuse a secret. Tell, and get to a safe place!
 
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