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Conflict Consulting

Conflict Consulting

Author: marlene johnson

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand the process of conflict consulting as a means of helping a party resolve a conflict when the other party will not participate in a conflict resolution process

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Video Transcription

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So what happens if you're in a conflict, you'd like to resolve it, you're ready to move ahead, but the other person refuses to meet? They just won't meet. Do you have any options? Well, you do. I'm Marlene, and today I'd like to talk to you about one of those options.

It's called conflict consulting. So what is conflict consulting? Well, conflict consulting is an approach to conflict resolution where the intervener will step into the role of conflict consultant and sit down with the interested party and help them develop skills that they can use moving forward when the other party just refuses to meet.

So that's what conflict consulting is. Meeting with that one party. It has three stages, and I've written them here.

The first one is emotional expression. Then you move into skill building. And finally there's action planning. And I'd like to talk about each of these separately with you.

Let's start with emotional expression. Very important for stage. When someone comes to conflict consulting, they have a story to tell. And they want to be heard. They need to be heard.

All they want is for you to listen to them at this point. So this is the time for them to vent their feelings, clarify their needs. So as a conflict intervener, you listen. You may have some clarifying questions, you may reflect back some things you hear, but you're there to listen.

This will go through its natural flow and ebb, this particular stage. And when the person feels heard, he or she will be ready to move into this next stage, skills building.

So here's the opportunity for the conflict consultant to offer some techniques or skills that the person might find helpful and they can use. And always, of course, take your cues from the person based on what you've heard and what you may think some things might be helpful, and you offer them.

If the person wants to move ahead, great. If they, they don't. But you're here to offer them the skills and techniques should they find these helpful. Now, there are many things you can offer. I've listed a few of them here.

So skills building. One of the things you might offer is role playing. It can be very helpful for someone to step into the role of the person they are in conflict with. So if this is something they'd like to do, the conflict consultant might play the role of the person.

OK, so I'll be you, and you step into the role of this other priority. And doing so can allow them to see things from another perspective.

You might also offer "I" messages. Would the person like to learn how to reframe or to speak what their needs are, what they feel, to own that using "I" statements? Perhaps there's been a lot of "you" statements or blaming statements that have been at the heart of the conflict. This might be useful.

Or the conflict styles assessment. Perhaps it would be helpful for them to look at what their approach to conflict is, and taking the assessment would be one way of doing that. And then, of course, conflict mapping can always be helpful as well. To actually sit with the person and map out the stages of the conflict, the different perspectives, issues.

So these are all options that you have. And as I said, there are more, but based on what the person would like and needs, you have a number of skills and techniques that you can offer.

Then following the skills building, you're ready to move into action planning. And this is where the conflict consultant will sit with the person and help them come up with strategies or solutions that make sense to them. Some next steps that they can take in terms of this conflict.

So it could be anything, really. Depending on what it is, they might decide they're going to talk to the person or maybe just write a letter or maybe they're wanting to come back for another session. Whatever it is that they think makes sense as a next step, you help them decide on that in the action planning stage.

So these are the three phases of conflict consulting. Now, it can be very powerful. Why? Because it empowers someone to take the next step. And based on the skills that they learn and the plan they put together, it can do a lot to help them resolve the conflict.

For example, it might de-escalate the conflict by helping them alter their perceptions on the other person here. And perhaps, if they've learned some "I" messages, they may approach the person differently.

I saw this happen in a condo situation with some neighbors where there had been a lot of yelling and blaming and noise. And the communication had been really at the root of escalating the conflict. So learning some different communication methods can actually help de-escalate a conflict.

It could even-- what you've learned in this session could help someone perhaps strengthen a relationship. You have two siblings who are in conflict over what to do with an elderly parent, and it's a very emotional time.

And the person who comes to conflict consulting is at an impasse. Perhaps through doing some role playing, comes to understand the perspective of her other sibling here in terms of where this person is coming from, what their perspective is. And actually realize they may not be so opposite here. They both have their parents' needs at heart, and it could strengthen the relationship.

So these are some things that can happen coming out of a conflict consulting session. Now, the core emphasis is the same here in conflict consulting as it is in any conflict resolution process. It's win-win thinking, you want to separate positions from interests, and, of course, you don't want to try to change anyone's values here. It's a matter of clarifying what your values are and perhaps understanding better the perspective of the other person.

So there is a process that is very helpful for people who want to resolve a conflict, work on it, when the other party is not willing to do so, and it's called conflict consulting. So thank you for joining me in this session. I look forward to next time.

Terms to Know
Action Planning

The third part of the conflict consulting process, in which the intervener helps the party develop strategies for engaging with other parties.

Conflict Consulting

An approach in which an intervener helps one party develop conflict resolution skills when other parties may not be willing to meet jointly or engage in a formal conflict resolution process.

Emotional Expression

The first part of conflict consulting, in which the intervener helps the party express feelings about the conflict and identify needs.

Skills Building

The second part of the conflict consulting process, in which the intervener helps the party develop skills using conflict resolution tools.