All Things Conflict Resolution
We Can Work It Out

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  • "The total value of lost work time due to stress is estimated to be $1.7 billion. (WarrenShepel [online] Health & Wellness Research Database, 2005).

  • "In a study of 50,000 Canadian employees nationwide Health Canada found that 'the greater the number of sources of stress reported in the social environment at work, the greater the likelihood of reporting more than 10 days off as a result of health." (Health Canada, Workplace Health Systerm, no. 3, 1998.)

  • "Tension and stress reduce motivation and disturb concentration. A loss of 25% (doing things other than work related activities, such as discussing the dispute, playing computer games, finding reasons to get out of the area) reduces an average work week to fewer than 20 hours . . ." (Cram, James A. and MacWilliams, Richard K. [online] The Cost of Conflict in the Workplace, Cramby River Consultants.)

  • Other consequences of increased conflict-related stresses include: greater incidence of substance abuse, heart problems, back problems, cancers, mental health problems, increased incidence of workplace injury, and much higher incidence of interpersonal conflict. (Health Canada, Best Advice on Stress Risk Management in the Workplace, 2000).

  • Over 65% of performance problems result from strained relationships between employees, not from deficit's in individual skill or motivation." (Dana, David, [online], The Dana Measure of Financial Cost of Organizational Conflict, 2001.]

  • There is increasing evidence that psychosocial factors relating to the job and work environment play a role in the development of work-related musculoskeletal disorder of the upper extremity and back." (Musculoskeletal Disorders and Workplace Factors: A Critical Review of Epidemologic Evidence for Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders of the Neck, Upper Extremity, and Low Back, Nation Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, July 1992.)

A Few Words About Conflict

Conflict is inevitable and a part of everyday life. It occurs whenever individuals or groups are not getting what they want or need and are acting in their own self-interest. It is our inability to effectively deal with conflict and the anger it generates that results in a host of negative consequences.Many of those recognized results include:

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Frustration

  • Inability to Concentrate

  • Increased Illness

  • Increased Stress

  • Injury or Accident

  • Loss of Productivity

  • Loss of Sleep

  • Resort to Grievance Procedures, e.g. litigation or filing a complaint

  • Do You Recognize Any of These as Causes for the Stress of Conflict in Your Life?

  • Change

  • Emotional Abuse

  • Harassment

  • Inability to Ask For What You Need

  • Inability to Say No

  • Individuals Who Are Angry

  • Overreaching (Asking for More than One's Share)

  • Resistant or "Difficult" Individuals

  • Unclear or Undefined Goals

  • Unequal Treatment

  • Unfair Treatment

  • How You Deal with Conflict Causes the Stress

    Most conflicts that confront us, (see below), can be resolved through proven resolution strategies. Yet often people choose counterproductive approaches that yield unfavorable results. Left unresolved conflict will inevitably escalate.How you choose to deal with the conflict determines whether it will be constructive or destructive. Managed properly, conflict can be an opportunity for better understanding, clearer communication, improved relationships, increased productivity, better trust and support.

    Having to endure conflicts without sufficient tools, outlets, support, or training, means you are destined to experience varying degrees of discomfort. Helping you overcome that handicap was the motivating factor for the creation of the web site.

    Fighting Fair- A Conflict Resolution Necessity

    Do's - Pick five to practice consistently and note improvements.You can add more over time.

    • Admit when you are wrong and apologize. Sometimes this will end the dispute.

    • Agree on a time and place no more than a few days away to talk.

    • Ask for feedback and really listen and reflect on what you hear.

    • Be as open, clear and straightforward as possible.

    • Be willing to compromise. Are you really standing on principle or are you being stubborn?

    • Develop your ability to look at conflict from an outside perspective.

    • Express ambivalence.

    • Express your anger or resentments right away rather than stockpiling them.

    • Give feedback and praise.

    • Keep your sense of humor.

    • Learn to forgive, forget and start over.

    • Listen for what you don't yet know.

    • Make a distinction between the problem and the person. You can hate the sin but still love the sinner.

    • Make it easy for another party to be constructive.

    • Maintain contact. It is always harder to be mean to friends than strangers.

    • Stay on the subject and argue one point at a time.

    • Strive for mutual understanding and meeting everyone's needs.

    • Use I statements - I want, I feel, I like or don't like.

    Don'ts. Stop doing any 3-5 consistently and note any changes for the better. You can add more over time.

    • Be defensive - denying all wrongdoing and refusing to recognize your part.

    • Escalate. Fights are best fought between two people at a time.

    • Fight after drinking.

    • Gunnysack holding onto resentments until they explode.

    • Hurt or overwhelm the other party.

    • Make character attacks.

    • Mind read and assume you already know what another party's thoughts and feelings are rather than asking.

    • Overgeneralize e.g. "you always" or "you never".

    • Play the blame game. Does it really matter who is right and who is wrong?

    • Overreact and make a big deal over a trivial issue.

    • Ridicule or dismiss another's feelings.

    • Scapegoat - fight about an issue as a way of avoiding a more painful one.

    • Snipe - expressing anger or resentment in bit size pieces over time.

    • Stonewall refusing to talk or listen.

    • Try to win at all costs.

    • Use a doublebind on someone - damned if you do, damned if you don't.

    Trusted Links.

    World Directory of Alternative Dispute Resolution Blogs. Since 2006, bringing together the world of blogs covering mediation, arbitration, negotiation, conflict resolution, and people-focused innovations in justice and law.

    The Mighty Power of Strategy. A comprehensive business strategy website with special focus on Sun Tzu's the Art of War Treaty and its powerful application in business and in life.

    An Australian colleague of ours, James Glenn, specializes in conflict resolution through applied persuasion. Invariably this involves 3 areas - managing key professional relationships; expressing ourselves appropriately; and skillfully managing the process of our discussions. Read more about his work at Negotiation Beyond Conflict.

    Communication and Conflict. Sharing insights from the practice of Mediation - a process designed to promote effective communication and conflict resolution.

    Of course, conflict is easier to resolve if there are good underlying relationships between the people involved. For an independent source of information and ideas on building strong and effective teams in the workplace, we suggest you take a look at the Team Building Bonanza website.

    To learn more about conflict resolution, click on any of the links below.

    To learn more about other conflict resolution topics, click on any of the links below.