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Navigating the storm of Conflict

How do we deal with conflict?  That’s the question John Zinsser asks and answers in his recent TedX Charleston talk. I met John at the recent IOA (International Ombudsman Association) annual conference and he provides a great tool for thinking and dealing with conflict.  John calls himself a communication catalyst and has significant conflict resolution and ombuds experience.

John explains that most of us use the “legal model” of dealing with conflict and this takes us down the wrong track with a focus on the past, a search for the “truth” and then, based on findings, someone is punished or rewarded. He suggests that this approach largely ignores the things we really want, does not pay attention to relationships, and rarely focuses on the future. As a result, and I really liked this line ” we sacrifice tomorrow to win yesterday.”

John has an answer worth considering. He believes we need to do the opposite, move away from the legal model and do three things to deal with conflict.

1)  Focus on interests and intentions

2)  Invest in relationships

3)  Focus on the future

The idea is to think about the why (interests) that drives what you seek and to consider your intentions – where do you really want to go?  To pay attention to relationships and the future.  This approach will help you navigate the storm of conflict and find the direction to take you to your desired port of call.

In John’s words, don’t “win yesterday” – win tomorrow!

Here’s a link to John’s TedX Charleston Talk: