Conflict Management – How to Win

Posted: March 12, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Cover art (Windows version)

According to psychologist we should all be striving for a win-win outcome when it comes to conflict. Now what does that mean exactly?

For me it means if I have a disagreement with you over twelve year olds being old enough for tattoos for example, in order for there to be a win-win situation from where I sit, you would need to change your mind and agree with me. You of course would need to see me change my opinion to match yours. You see, I think they are too young  and you don’t, so we have a conflict of interests. For there to be a win-win here, either I or you would need to change our opinion….or agree to disagree which isn’t really a win-win now is it? Clearly a win-win means different things to different people.

I doubt that in the real world win-wins happen as frequently as some would like to think. Most times there is a clear winner and loser in conflict, at best there may be a close second. Both the loser and second place-getter will feel ripped off, cheated or coerced into agreeing if not right there and then, quite possibly later on when they reflect on what they should have said (if the other had shut up for five) if they had not been so emotional.

Sometimes agreements can be reached (and promises made) at the time of conflict and it appears to have a win-win resolution on the surface. However a bit later down the track the conflict can resurface if the agreements and promises are not upheld. Intention and integrity are important in conflict negotiations because if promises are not kept, the next confrontation may well end in violence.

Sometimes it serves us to hang on to conflict for fear that if we end it by either seeking a resolution, or be accepting or giving an apology, we will be forced into a ‘relationship’ with the person we desire to distance ourselves from. I just hate it when people with ‘good intentions’ expect everyone  ‘just to get along’. That doesn’t happen, not even in fairy tales! Stephanie Dowrick believes that forcing people in conflict to spend time together is pointless and may even be dangerous. I agree Stephanie! I know of a few people that make my life happier when they are not around and ‘because they are family’ means nought to me. Harper Lee (Author – To Kill A Mockingbird) once said “you can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family”. Well I disagree, I can choose who I spend my time with regardless of whether we share the same blood or marriage lines or not! You can choose as well. Why waste your time on trying to get along with others who you do not want the best for you, only indulge their own desires, wants and needs, put you down etc, etc, etc.

None of us should aim to be winners in conflict, if we both reach the ribbon at the end of the race at the same time, both of us will still believe we were better than the other. Rather than striving for the proverbial ‘pot of gold at the end of the rainbow’ win-win end to conflict, why not strive to negotiate in the name of fairness. Fairness requires caring and empathy, it is kind, understanding and ongoing. Winning is competitive, egotistic and often final. Who knows maybe this is why we have so much conflict in our personal life and our world. Respecting and admitting that we all have different perspectives is a step in the right direction and has to be better than competing to be right.

Fairness and peace to you all.



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