Those of us who live and work in social groups (whether personal or work) will deal with conflict and contention.
The more complex and high-stakes the issue, the higher the likelihood of contentiousness.
For your consideration, a few strategies that can help us move toward resolution of conflict and solutions that foster better futures:
- Define the issue - seek to clearly articulate the problem at hand, out loud, without emotional language.
- Remove barriers - have the conversation/discussion in settings that do not have physical barriers (tables, desks, ...) or symbolic barriers (titles, seniority, ...) that separate the discussants. Level the playing field for the richest conversations.
- Stay outcomes oriented - keep the convo more about the outcomes and less about process and protocol.
- Inquire, hypothesize, forecast - ask good questions, repeatedly, that cause all minds present to think about possible outcomes from the different options available for moving forward. "What if we..." conversations are powerful for decision making.
- Restate, on repeat - constantly restate positions and proposals to make sure that all parties are thinking about the same solution/outcome.
- Confer respectfulness - even when emotional temperatures go up, respectfulness toward others stands the best chance of building bridges (and not walls).
If you never have to be involved in such discourse, thank your lucky stars.
For the rest of us, navigating contention is tricky business..............but learnable.