In a previous post, I referenced Step 5 “look to the future, then learn from the past” from Dudley Weeks, Ph.D., “Eight Essential Steps to Conflict Resolution.” With a new semester just underway, Weeks helps us think about resolving conflict as a partnership. Here’s Weeks approach to resolve conflict while preserving relationships. Happy Fall Semester!
Step 1 – Create an Effective Atmosphere – “The atmosphere is the frame around the canvas on which we paint how we will agree, disagree, and build an improved relationship.” (p 71)
Step 2 – Clarify Perceptions – “If we perceive something to be a certain way, even if we are incorrect, in our minds it is that way, and we often base our behavior on that perception.” (p 89) Weeks process asks us to clarify “perceptions of the conflict, or the self, an of the conflict partner.” (p 90)
Step 3 – Focus on Individual and Shared Needs – This is one of those simple yet important ideas as people should think both about their own needs (not wants) and the needs of ones conflict partner.
Step 4 – Build Shared Positive Power – Focus on self, partner, and shared power. Weeks encourages us to think in positive terms. “Positive power seeks to promote the constructive capabilities of all parties involved in a conflict.” (p 151) My preference is that people in conflict are not parties, they are people!
Step 5 – Look to the Future, Then Learn From the Past – “Even though the past does indeed matter, we deny our own power and the power of development and change if we allow ourselves to be defined by the past, to be trapped in perceptions that use past patterns to limit present and future possibilities.” (p 165)
Step 6 – Generate Options – This step “can often break through the preconceived limitations we bring with us into the conflict resolution process.” (p 183)
Step 7 – Develop ‘Doables’: The Stepping Stones to Action – “Doables are (stepping stones) specific acts that stand a good chance of success, meet some individual and shared needs, and depend on positive power, usually shared power, to be implemented.” (p 204)
Step 8 – Make Mutual-Benefit Agreements – “Instead of demands, the parties focus on developing agreements that can meet some of each party’s needs, accomplish some shared goals, and establish a precedent in which power is defined as positive mutual action through which disagreements can be dealt with constructively.” (p 224)