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Sunday, February 26, 2012

A Conflict Management Class

I will be leading a four-session class on Creative Conflict Management at the Family Life Resource Center (where I work) at 7-8:30 each Wednesday evening starting March 7. If you or others you know may be interested, the cost is $50 (or $40 each for a couple or a group), and you may contact me at harvey@flrc.org or call 434-8450 to register.

The course is designed to help couples, congregational leaders, parents, co-workers and others better use some of the following mediation-based principles of conflict management:

Seven Habits of Highly Effective Peacemakers

Habit One. They accept conflict as inevitable, but combat as optional (and a sign of fear and weakness rather than strength). 
Conflicts are seen as a normal part of all human relationships, experiences that can result in positive learning and growth. 

Habit Two. They celebrate differences as potentially helpful and useful.
The opinions of both change promoters and change resisters in families, work places and communities are heard, respected, and welcomed. 

Habit Three. They seek to equalize power in relationships, and to empower (rather than to dis-empower) others with whom they differ.
They realize that any perceived imbalances of power in relationships increases the likelihood of instability and hostility, and recognize that power and privilege are better used to help others gain a more equal sense of stature and influence rather than simply seek to gain dominance over them. 

Habit Four. They observe the rule: Listen first, discuss second, decide last.
They don’t come to a negotiating process with their minds already made up and intent only on arguing for their position, but begin by carefully and non-defensively listening to others' interests and concerns, and when it is their turn, respectfully expressing their own. They actively encourage as many ideas being brought to the table as possible. Then (as a separate part of the process) they work collaboratively to work out a win-win solution based on the best ideas they’ve been able to come up with. 

Habit Five. They show a high level of respect both for other people and for their opinions.
They remember to keep their respect for others high, their expectations of others medium or moderate, and their anxiety low. They recognize that anxiety is usually the emotion that contributes to escalating anger and defensiveness.

Habit Six. They seek to recognize and address underlying needs and interests in conflictual relationships.
Examples of such needs are:
      1. Need for recognition, acceptance, respect (the love need)
      2. Need for influence, power, a “say” in the relationship
      3. Need for getting even, for ventilating anger and frustration      (especially if first two needs are seen as not being met)
      4. Need to withdraw, give up, retreat in hurt and helplessness (if  nothing seems to be working)
      5. Need for change, challenge, shakeup of status quo 


Habit Seven. They acknowledge and maximize their own faults rather than being highly focused on the wrongs of others.
They don’t ignore problems in a relationship, but pay primary attention to their own part in those problems, then respectfully work at reconciliation and negotiation with others. They also invest time and energy in the positive, “no-problem” area (with relationship problems temporarily set aside), in order to build up a reservoir of goodwill that helps facilitate good problem solving.
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