Attitude might not exactly be everything when dealing with conflict management, but it sure plays a big part. The most productive attitude in addressing disputes, especially in the initial stages, is one of letting go of resentment toward the other party. Regardless of what events have ...Attitude might not exactly be everything when dealing with conflict management, but it sure plays a big part. The most productive attitude in addressing disputes, especially in the initial stages, is one of letting go of resentment toward the other party. Regardless of what events have transpired, or what emotions have been riled up, trying to remain in the present, as psychologists love to say, will ensure a more peaceful interaction and result. This involves conscientiously focusing on the present situation and not on old feelings and suspicions, regardless of how valid they are or how tempting it is to ruminate over them.

Dredging up problems from the past will only complicate the situation at hand. Trying to prove past points is not only moot, but a recipe for failure. If the other party brings up past problems, shortcomings, or former poor attitudes, be vigilant in making a smooth shift back to the facts and data regarding the current situation. Some venting and fuming over past incidents is to be expected. However, until the current issues are essentially agreed upon, progress toward a current plan of action will stall.

One positive technique to resolve conflict in its initial stages is the ¡§When You Do____ , I/We Feel¡¨ statement. This means commenting on how you feel when the other party engages in a specific behavior or activity. It reduces the potential for the other party to feel attacked or accused. In other words, you state the facts in terms of how their actions affect your feelings and not by assigning blame. For example:

Example A. CORRECT: "When you do system A instead of system B, we feel that quality is compromised." (Statement of fact)

Example B: INCORRECT: "When you use system A instead of system B, quality is compromised." (Blame)

When you don¡¦t use the word "I" or "we", the statement essentially puts the other party on the defensive (Example B). In one case, you are honestly stating your feelings about poor quality. In the other case, you are blaming them for poor quality. The last thing you want is to put the other party on the defensive in the early stages of conflict management. Remember, they can just as easily get your defenses up. Blaming will result in a stalled negotiation, if not worse, and will reinforce the past negative feelings that you are attempting to overcome.

Try this attitude and technique sometime in a simple, neutral situationƒ{you might be surprised with the results.

Ian Glickman, Ph.D.

Learn more about leadership, occupational stress, conflict management, change management, team development and motivational speaking at Ian Glickman Consulting. Visit our web site at ianglickman.com

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Glickman is a psychologist licensed in Pennsylvania and Iowa. For ten years he was a professor at Immaculate University teaching courses in leadership, team development, occupational stress, conflict resolution, business communication, and human development. He was on the teaching faculty of the leading national healthcare Devereux Foundation’s Institute of Clinical Training and Research. Dr. Glickman studied extensively in Europe and Asia and earned his bachelors degree in Creative Intelligence from Maharishi European Research University, Selisberg Switzerland. His master’s degree is in Counseling and Human Development from the University of Iowa and his Ph.D. in psychology is from Lehigh University. Dr. Glickman has participated in numerous conflict resolution projects nationally and internationally. Due to his work at the Devereaux foundation, he is the former chairman of the Pennsylvania committee for stress-free schools. He is a Fellow at the American Institute of Stress and a Diplomate of the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress with an additional certificate in war trauma. Dr. Glickman has had numerous TV and radio appearances. He’s lectured at Princeton and Harvard universities and has published in Princeton’s Innovations: The Journal of Science and Technology. Dr. Glickman has done innovative research on occupational stress and body types. He is a certified facilitator of the Steven Covey Speed of Trust Program. Dr. Glickman is a sought-after coach and speaker with years of consulting experience.