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Theoretical Overview

Theoretical Overview

Author: Marlene Johnson
Description:

At the end of this tutorial, the learner will understand that conflict resolution theories continue to be generated, and to grow/change as new information is found and integrated.

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Tutorial

Notes on "Theoretical Overview"

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Theories about conflict resolution continue to grow and develop as we learn more through practice and through research. I'm Marlene, and today I'd like to talk with you about five different models of conflict resolution.

And the first model I'd like to discuss is quite the cooperative model. This model is an approach to conflict resolution that encourages parties to see themselves as partners working jointly to solve problems. So you could see this perhaps in a community, where people are coming together with common interests to see how to best develop the community, to preserve safety, to grow business, they see themselves as partners working to solve whatever problems might confront. Whatever conflicts might arise.

You can also see this within a personal relationship. You may have a conflict with someone over a differing viewpoint, perhaps a different belief system, maybe it's a goal, it's a need, but you want to sit down with that party and cooperate to see if there's a way you could move past your differences. And meet the needs that you both have in some cooperative manner. So that's the cooperative model.

The next model I want to talk about here is called the human needs model. This is a model of conflict resolution that presumes certain universal human needs, often described in hierarchical terms, influence parties' goals in conflict.

So what do we mean by this? We mean that there are basic human needs that we all have. And they fall on a scale. And at the bottom of that scale are what we'll call survival needs. Meaning we need to have food, shelter, safety. If those needs aren't met we aren't even going to think about anything else. So you might find somebody who, perhaps has lost a job, can't pay their mortgage or rent, is having difficulty putting food on the table, supporting their family. Those needs are going to be foremost in any sort of a negotiation or conflict resolution process.

Someone else may not have those needs, that they don't need to worry about them, they have a job, they have money coming in. Their needs are what we will call at the higher end of the scale. They could begin thinking of things such as self esteem. So perhaps that's a need that's important, being recognized for work well done.

So we have these needs on the scale. And this model, the human needs model, presumes that these needs often influence a parties' goals in conflict.

The next a style here is called principled negotiation. Now principled negotiation is a form of negotiation that focuses on meeting parties' underlying interests rather than competing positions. So once again, you may have people in a community that are talking about zoning restrictions and they have different ideas about what they want to see. And the goal here would be to focus on their underlying interests. They want to create a safe environment that is going to be enjoyable for every one. Whatever the common interest is here, that everybody shares, that's what you focus on. Not the competing positions. And this is very useful model in many circumstances.

The other conflict style that I would like to speak about here is called conflict styles theory. This is an approach to conflict resolution which sees the key to resolving conflict as selecting and working within the most appropriate style of resolution. So this particular method really recognizes that people have different styles. Not everything will work the same way or work well for everybody. So what is the best style of conflict resolution? For these particular parties, in this context, in this conflict. So that is the conflict style theory.

And last of all, there's conflict transformation. Last, but certainly not least. Conflict transformation is an approach to conflict resolution which sees the key to resolving and preventing conflicts as changing the fundamental relationship between parties. So this is very much relationship based here. The idea is that if the parties can come together and communicate differently, understand one another, the relationship perhaps, hear each other stories, that in itself can change enough so that the underlying conflicts tend to be resolved or be in the process of being resolved. So that is conflict transformation.

So these are all five theories. They have some similarities, a few differences. And they continue to grow and develop as we learn more through research and practice.

Thank you for being part of this tutorial, and I look forward to seeing you next time.

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Conflict Transformation

    An approach to conflict resolution which sees the key to resolving and preventing conflicts as changing the fundamental relationship between parties.

  • Conflict Styles Theory

    An approach to conflict resolution which sees the key to resolving conflict as selecting and working within the most appropriate style of resolution.

  • Principled Negotiation

    A form of negotiation that focuses on meeting parties' underlying interests rather than competing positions.

  • Human Needs Model

    A model of conflict resolution that presumes certain universal human needs, often described in hierarchical terms, influence parties' goals in conflict.

  • Cooperative Model

    An approach to conflict resolution that encourages parties to see themselves as partners working jointly to solve problems.