50 Activities for Conflict Resolution
Group Learning and Self Development Exercises Jonamay Lambert and Selma Myers

Published by Human Resource Development Press, Inc.

© 1999 by Jonamay Lambert and Selma Myers The materials that appear in this book, other than those quoted from prior sources, may be reproduced for educational/training activities. There is no requirement to obtain special permission for such uses. We do, however, ask that the following statement appear on all reproductions: Reproduced from 50 Activities for Conflict Resolution, by Jonamay Lambert and Selma Myers. Amherst, Massachusetts: HRD Press, 1999.

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...... I Lose—You Lose ....................... When Conflict Creates Stress........................................................................................... IV....................... iii 11 13 15 17 23 25 31 33 35 37 41 45 47 49 53 59 61 65 69 71 77 79 .................................................................................................................................... Resistance ....................................... Or Is It? ........................................................ Approaches to Conflict: Role Play Demonstration............................ ix Part 1 I........................................ Values and Perceptions Gaining a Different Perspective.................................................................................................... Resolving Conflict Situations What Kind of Question Is That?...... Assumptions: Who Needs ‘Em?................................... v Preface......................................................Table of Contents Workshop Activities About the Authors ....................................... Options to the Rescue! ....... Red Flags ............. Know Yourself Individual Conflict Styles: A Zoological Approach .................................. 5 How Can We Both Win? A Quick Demonstration .............................................................................................................................. vii Introduction ............. 1 Two Responses to Conflict: Fight or Flight ......................................................................... Identifying Helpful Communication Styles .......................................................................................... Curbside Conflict Resolution .................................... Formulating Clear Agreements ................................................................................................................................ Portrait of a Peacemaker ................................... The Big Bad Wolf................. Understanding Conflict Tug of War or Peace.............................................. Benefits and Barriers: Exploring Third-Party Intervention ...................................................................................... V.................. Exploring Conflict Defining Conflict: Where Do You Stand? .... III........... Introduction to Listening: A Self Inventory...................................................................................................................... Constructive or Destructive Conflict: Lessons to Be Learned .................................................................................................................................... Third-Party Mediation.......................................... Don’t Just Stand There! ..................... Mismatched? Are You Reading the Nonverbal Clues? ....................... Brainstorming: The Case of the Stolen Account............. ............ 7 II............................................ Listening for the Other Person’s Point of View: Paraphrasing ............... ...........................................................

...................................... 161 iv ..... 89 91 95 97 II...... 133 V................. Know Yourself The Role of Values in Conflict Resolution.......................................................................................... Understanding Conflict Resolving a Conflict through Planning..................................................... 157 Turning Negatives into Positives..................................................................................................................................... 127 First Thoughts about Others: “Perception IQ” Quiz.............................................................................. 159 Eight Different Points of View ..50 Activities for Conflict Resolution Independent Study Part 2 Introduction to the Back of the Book ............................................................................ 115 Four Conflict Resolution Styles: When to Use Each............................................................................................................................................... 117 Mediation: Test Your Knowledge .. Resolving Conflict Situations Uncovering the Hidden Agenda ........................................................... 109 III..................................... 155 Escalate vs.................................. Self-Assessment in Dealing with Differences.......................................... 129 The Ideal Peacemaker: Can You Imagine That?......................... 103 Which Conflict Resolution Style Is Yours? ....................................... .................. 101 In the Heat of the Moment ........ Values and Perceptions Evaluating Your Conflict Resolution Skills..................................................................................................... Opinion........................................ Exploring Sources of Conflict ........................................ 137 Your Turn: A Nonjudgmental Exercise ......................... 153 Fact vs.................. 143 Direct Communication: Its Use in Conflict Resolution .................................................................... 121 IV...................... Analyzing a Conflict: Is It Worth Getting Into? ............ 139 A Questionable Exercise .......................................................................................... Exploring Conflict Early Takes on Conflict . Acknowledge: The Choice Is Yours ...... 113 Why People Avoid Dealing with Conflict Resolution.......... 149 Supportive Listening: What’s Your Score? ...... 105 How to Deal with Hot Buttons ................................................. ....................................................................... 151 Skills That Make a Difference.......................................................................................................................... Self-Development ........ 85 I.

Ms. linking the subject of Alternative Dispute Resolution to intercultural training.A. Prior to forming Lambert and Associates in 1987. where she administered programs for foreign students and businessmen. has been engaged in alternative dispute resolution since 1983. is well known throughout the human resources field for her training and development methodology. and educational organizations.000 national and international organizations.. and 50 Activities for Diversity Training. Myers helped found. the American Language Institute at San Diego State University. M. She has also lived and worked abroad and traveled extensively. a not-for-profit institution. Lambert received a master’s degree in counseling from Northeastern University and an undergraduate degree in education from Indiana University after studying in Europe and the Middle East. as an international consultant. and was director of. she was principal of PACE. and benefit from one another. and received a three-year grant to develop a multicultural curriculum for prison system educators. Ms. Founder and president of Lambert and Associates. a California company specializing in communication and intercultural training. grow. gaining particular insights into cultures different than her own. she has designed and implemented training programs related to diversity leadership and change management for corporate. co-author of seven trainers’ guides in the Diversity at Work Training Series. ******* Selma Myers Selma Myers. a trained and experienced mediator. As the co-author of ten trainer’s guides in the “Diversity at Work” trainer’s series.About the Authors Jonamay Lambert Jonamay Lambert. Jonamay’s philosophy is that diversity must be understood and appreciated as a means through which people learn. she is president of Intercultural Development. Also the author of ten trainer’s guides about diversity used in more than 1.. M.A. governmental. including many Fortune 100 companies. and “50 Activities for Diversity Training”. she has also written additional guides and handbooks. In addition. v .

Ms. Her clients have included Fortune 500 organizations. not-for-profit. recipient of a Senior Fulbright Consulting Grant in South America. vi . government agencies and other areas of business. Myers offers workshops in Conflict Resolution and provides mediation training for the San Diego Mediation Center and for regional and national conferences. Myers was a visiting lecturer in residence at the Beijing Institute of Technology.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution Ms. and a Summer Teaching Fellow at Harvard University.

and keep it from becoming destructive to ongoing relationships. its causes. size up the situation. The activities and exercises also offer ways in which parties can recognize the kinds of language that might make things worse. Some people believe that conflict is a necessary part of life. This book is designed to meet the needs of professionals who are expected to resolve their own personal and immediate conflicts or train others to do so. improved communication. as well as explore what might be done or said to make things better. and a more productive work environment. More material has recently come to light about communication conflicts between men and women. Ultimately they and their organizations will benefit through reduced conflict. and body language is often hard to read. However. The increased diversity within the United States makes it even more important to know how to handle conflict. while others help people explore their own beliefs and values. and its impact. This book focuses on activities and self-study exercises. Dispute resolution is often seen as a “win-lose” situation. It also deals with the specific skills one needs to act as a third party in helping others resolve their conflicts. or a constant series of compromises. conflict-resolution techniques and activities can help people understand and deal with it in a way that considers and respects individual as well as cultural differences. and the role conflict has played and is playing in their lives. Some exercises point out ways to look at conflict. however— signposts and guidelines are not clear.Preface Business people are becoming much more interested in understanding workplace conflict. Other exercises deal with how to understand individual conflict styles. Others believe that the only way to handle conflict is to avoid dealing with it. vii . It is often difficult to recognize. but there are many instances in which people’s actions in general are being misinterpreted—instances when they are behaving in ways they believe are totally innocent. Recognizing the signs and acting sensitively can go a long way toward prevention or resolution. The objective is to be able to recognize conflict. and that without conflict there is no growth. Individuals participating in the workshop activities and self-study exercises offered in this book will examine their own concerns with conflict. their own individual styles. They will also learn skills to help them become more effective in interpersonal relations at work.

Nonjudgmental communication skills can help people who must diffuse volatile situations. • • • • The authors assume that those who are conducting these activities or participating in them will be comfortable with our short. and to work toward an agreement that is acceptable to each individual and the organization as a whole. it does address techniques and approaches to conflict resolution by teaching respect for the individual. Finally. as well as the styles of others). Practicing good communication skills will help you resolve conflicts. and the process. which often cause conflict without our realizing it. The more one knows about conflict styles (one’s own natural styles. The objective of this book is to provide a series of learning experiences carefully constructed to: • • • • Look at conflict and its various stages Understand the impact of differences on conflict Become comfortable with various conflict styles and resolution methods Learn responsible and effective communication skills This book is not a road map to the complete conflict resolution process. In resolving conflicts. experiential style. viii . the more effective the solution. However.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution Certain assumptions form the basis for the activities in this book: • • • One of the goals is to help those giving and receiving messages avoid misunderstandings and be accurate in using language and communication skills. In it we stress the importance of understanding differing values and perceptions. the problem. but rather of all of those involved. as well as prevent them from escalating. The path to conflict resolution is not the sole responsibility of any one person. the activities are designed to be non-threatening. which presents an opportunity to learn in an interactive way. it is important to meet the interests and needs of all parties. and designed for success. Acknowledging differences up front is an important step in interactions involving values and behavior in diversity issues.

a trainer. but they have been designed to offer step-by-step instructions so that they can be put into practice by trainers. managers. The overall objective is to show you how to recognize conflict and size up a particular situation.Introduction Whether you are a dispute resolution specialist. These activities are completely interactive. and help you learn how to prevent it from becoming destructive to a new or ongoing relationship. counselors. a manager. Though both of these sections deal primarily with conflict and conflict resolution. and understand conflict issues in terms of values and perceptions. this book is for you. the beauty of the activities and exercises is that they can be incorporated in any number of other training programs. It is unique in that it addresses two very important topics in specific sections: Group Learning in Part 1. and explore what can be done or said to make things better. The wide range of topics in Part 1 encourage participants to explore conflict in general. as well as those related to Communication. They fit in well with subjects dealing with Management and Leadership. some point out ways to look at disputes. Each section of this book on conflict resolution uses workshop activities and self-study exercises. The section also includes conflict-resolution models and practice activities for developing the skills for resolution. The activities and exercises also offer ways to avoid using the kind of language that makes things worse. learn about their own personal styles and approaches. Trainers in the field of Negotiation. The two different sections of the book are described below to give you an idea of their contents and how they can be used. The balance of the activities deal with the actual skills needed to resolve conflict situations and provide opportunities for skill practice. and Self Development in Part 2. and other leaders. while others help people explore their own beliefs and values concerning conflict. Diversity. Interpersonal Skills. or anyone else whose responsibility includes dealing with conflict. Part 1—Group Learning Part 1 offers 25 easy-to-use interactive activities designed for use in a workshop setting by facilitators and trainers to help participants understand disputes and the impact of various styles of dealing with conflict. or Problem Solving will also find both sections useful. Each activity in the front of the book follows the same format: ix . There are additional exercises dealing with conflict styles and resolution skills.

second. Suggested answers have been provided where appropriate to give participants the opportunity to measure their responses. Those who will be working alone at least part of the time will find the exercises easy to follow. and skill-building exercises that include questions. as follows: x . with careful adjustment. The activities in Part 2 use the following headings: Title Of Exercise PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE INTRODUCTION WORKSHEET SUMMARY The activities and exercises in both Part 1 and Part 2 are grouped into five categories. A Summary statement appears at the end of each exercise so participants can review the learning points. reinforce their own work or that of others. as a stand-alone course with exercises that help participants take the initiative for their own learning. and provide closure. specific reflection exercises. responses. Part 2—Independent Study This section of the book can be used in three ways: first. directions and worksheets are self-explanatory. and helpful ways to communicate more effectively. as homework or classwork to reinforce the group activities in Part 1. They were designed for individualized instruction. thereby supplementing group learning.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution Title Of Activity PURPOSE EQUIPMENT MATERIALS PROCEDURE DEBRIEF TRAINER’S NOTES (where appropriate). This section consists of a wide range of self-assessment instruments. many of the exercises can also be converted by the trainer to an interactive format. and third.

Conflict resolution is an exciting field to be in. it can also affect productivity. we would like to point out that the activities contained in 50 Activities for Conflict Resolution will be useful to those of you working in industrial. Innocent behavior can all too quickly be misinterpreted and grow into a minor dispute that gets out of hand before anyone is aware of it. government. Exploring Conflict II. service. the problem. Its objective is to teach respect for the individual. and finance. Know Yourself III. Knowing how conflict can be prevented and resolved is becoming increasingly important to all workers.Introduction I. commercial. and the process. However. as well as in the fields of health care. and we wish you good luck! xi . no longer is the task of resolving workplace conflict left to managers and trainers. but when it is allowed to develop and grow in the workplace. and to point out the importance of understanding the differing values and perceptions that so often are the cause of anticipated conflict. and not-for-profit organizations. Values and Perceptions V. Resolving Conflict Situations Conflict affects everyone. education. This book explores techniques and approaches to conflict resolution. As a final note. Understanding Conflict IV.

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I EXPLORING CONFLICT .

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Explain that this activity is one that should get them thinking about additional feelings concerning conflict and ways to resolve a difficult situation. Lead a discussion about the positive aspects of conflict resolution. 4. and what conflict means in their life experiences. They should also talk about some earlier experiences that led them to these definitions. 6. Explain to participants that people often come to a conflict-resolution workshop with a fixed definition of conflict and ideas based on earlier life experiences. thinking about the discussions so far. Ask participants for examples that influenced their thinking about conflict. Reconvene and have pairs report on the results of their conversations. ask participants to share and discuss answers. When the Pop Quiz is completed. asking questions such as: • How can conflict strengthen relationships? • In what ways can conflict generate growth and self-development? 5. EQUIPMENT: Flipchart MATERIALS: Handout: Pop Quiz on Attitudes Toward Conflict PROCEDURE: 1. 2. and ask the participants to complete the Pop Quiz. There will be other activities in this book exploring various conflict styles. Begin by pairing the participants and asking them to discuss with each other their definition of conflict.Defining Conflict: Where Do You Stand? 30–35 minutes PURPOSE: To help participants understand how they perceive conflict. and then (using participant input) write a group definition of conflict on the flipchart. as well as the skills and strategies required to resolve conflict effectively. Distribute the handout. 3. 1 .

) • Which statements best represent your attitude.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution DEBRIEF: Ask the following questions regarding the handout. individual definitions of conflict can shape how you deal with conflict when you are personally involved. whereas responses in the right-hand column seems to represent the constructive side of conflict. the more likely you are to understand conflict situations and develop resolution skills. Explain that the more you learn about defining conflict. You will begin to look at individual needs and intentions (your own and others). reminding the group that there are no right or wrong answers: • How do you feel about the responses? • Can you see a difference in philosophy? What are your thoughts about that? (Possible answers are that responses in the left column generally represent a narrow interpretation of the destructive side of conflict. or the ones in the right? Remember. and learn to use constructive communication to resolve conflicts. the ones in the left column. 2 .

Defining Conflict: Where Do You Stand? Handout Pop Quiz: Attitudes Toward Conflict In each row across the page. 3 . (Your choices should involve your thoughts about present-day conflict in the workplace. Join the group for comments and further discussion.) I believe conflict: Hurts relationships Should be avoided Resolution is based on status and power Disregards differences of opinion Has nothing to be gained from it Is about blame Produces a winner and a loser Check I believe conflict: Here Strengthens relationships Should be resolved Resolution is based on equality of power Recognizes and appreciates differences of opinion Can generate growth Is about understanding and coming to agreement Can produce a win-win resolution Check Here Total the number of checks in each column. check off the one phrase that best represents your way of thinking.

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Introduce this activity by describing an imaginary wall and indicating its location across the back of the room. 4. 2. 3. and those who would do anything to avoid conflict to stand at the far right. using the following questions as guidelines for both groups: • In what type of situation did you find your approach most effective? Give specific examples.) 5.Two Responses to Conflict: Fight or Flight 30–45 minutes PURPOSE: To give participants a chance to explore their responses to conflict and then consider the advantages and disadvantages of each response. This activity will give them an opportunity to discuss two general responses to conflict and the advantages and disadvantages of each. Allow about 5–10 minutes for discussions within each group. Explain that some people are ready to fight. Reconvene and ask for a report on the key points discussed. and some people are ready to run away. (If flipcharts are available. Ask participants to think about how willing they are to deal with a conflict when it occurs. • In what type of situation did you find your approach least effective? Give specific examples. 6. Have each group select a reporter and then discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the way these participants deal with conflict. Explain to participants that people often come to a conflict resolution workshop with fixed ideas based on early experiences with conflict. Ask those participants who say they really enjoy a conflict and are eager to address one when it occurs to stand at the far left of the wall. • How easy or difficult would it be to adapt your style to become more 5 . have the reporter list the pros and the cons of each approach on the chart. Have them think about which type of response is most typical for them. Lead a discussion. EQUIPMENT: None MATERIALS: None PROCEDURE: 1.

For example.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution effective? • Have each group select a reporter and then discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the way these participants deal with conflict. rather than the two extreme positions.” “Compromising. have the reporter list the pros and cons of each approach on the chart. TRAINER’S NOTES: Another way of using this activity would be to ask participants to regroup along the “wall” with a continuum in mind. DEBRIEF: There will generally be a continuum rather than two discrete positions in this activity. (If flipcharts are available.” or “Accommodating. 6 . and might be more appropriate under different circumstances. Allow about 5–10 minutes for discussion within each group. there will also be positions somewhere in between the two extremes illustrated. responses might also come under “Collaborating. However.” Each of the styles carries advantages and disadvantages.

have them sit in such a way that their knees will be braced against each other. 5. Once they get the idea of partnering rather than trying to defeat one another. Ask for volunteers to demonstrate the concept of “Win-Lose” and “Win-Win. and ask them to sit in such a way that they can arm wrestle. • Ask the volunteers at what point they remember thinking that there might be a better way to accomplish their goals than struggling to win. (With no table. 2. 4. Money. suggest that opponents think about partnering so that both sides can win.) 3. On the third or fourth round. Allow several rounds and give out prizes to each winner.How Can We Both Win? A Quick Demonstration 10 minutes PURPOSE: To help participants understand the difference between working against one another and working together toward a mutual end when resolving a dispute. Candy. asking questions such as: • • • • What happened here? Were there any surprises? What lessons were learned in this activity? Ask the participants if they can recall at what point they began to think that the two volunteers ought to work out a plan so that both would win. put it between the volunteers. they then realize that they can work back and forth in such a way that each can take turns winning and earn prizes. or Trainer’s Choice PROCEDURES: 1. 7 . Explain that you will give a prize to the winner each time an opponent is beaten. The activity is then over. EQUIPMENT: None MATERIALS: Prizes.” Select two volunteers of the same sex and have them come to the front of the room. Lead a discussion. If there is a small table available. Explain that they are going to compete in an arm wrestling match. Ask them to sit face to face.

50 Activities for Conflict Resolution DEBRIEF: It’s natural for one party to want to win at the expense of the other. yet a situation can be constructed with some negotiating so that the struggle is easier and both sides will come away feeling good. another Win-Win! 8 . Hence.

II KNOW YOURSELF .

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Some forms of accommodation are possible. and what can be lost by using it. Most important are respecting differences and turning them into a positive force for resolution. Ask participants to walk around the room and stand beside the poster that best represents the way they deal with conflict.Individual Conflict Styles: A Zoological Approach 30 minutes PURPOSE: To help participants recognize that there are distinct differences in conflict resolution styles. and what they think they can accomplish using that style. 11 . 5. Conflicts are often exacerbated by differences in conflict-resolution styles. and a one-sentence description of an appropriate style that each animal might represent (see Trainer’s Notes). 2. Ask participants to share what they believe is good about dealing with conflict in that particular way. when it might be least appropriate to use. Continue by discussing how to deal with others who have different styles of resolving conflict. 3. and that being flexible and respecting others might help in resolving conflict. EQUIPMENT: None MATERIALS: Posters prepared ahead of time showing either pictures or names of the four animals in this activity. when it is most appropriate. Ask participants to discuss any problems a particular style might cause. DEBRIEF: This activity addresses four major conflict styles [as described in the Trainer’s Notes]. It is not always necessary for people to give up their natural styles in order to resolve conflict. Place the posters in various areas of the room. 4. PROCEDURE: 1. Reconvene and have participants summarize the advantages and disadvantages of the various styles.

• Pit Bull (winning is the only thing) This represents Competition.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution TRAINER’S NOTES: Prepare four posters with either the pictures or the names of the following animals. then briefly describe the styles: • Bunny Rabbit (escape when you have the chance) This represents Avoidance. as well as the phrases that are in parentheses. • Worker Bee (act for the good of the group) This represents Cooperation. • Chameleon (willing to change to blend in) This represents Adaptation. 12 .

reading what is written. It will also be helpful to understand how other people with different styles operate and develop skills to deal with those differences. make sure to check in with him or her to find out why he or she made that choice. Next. 5. Instruct them to discuss with one another why they selected that style and what the advantages and disadvantages of that style may be in resolving conflict. tell each to stand by the flipchart page of their choice. and report out. Then.Identifying Helpful Communication Styles 30 minutes PURPOSE: To give participants an opportunity to identify their individual communication styles. instruct participants to each move to the flipchart page with the style that they feel they have the most trouble relating to. 2. Ask for a report from each group. Instruct participants to first reflect on how they view their own communication styles and then select the one flipchart page from the four shown that they feel best matches this style. Conceal descriptions until directions are given. Once they have made their decisions. and to discuss how communication styles impact conflict resolution. 7. 6. If a participant stands alone. Post one of the four previously-prepared flipchart sheets in each corner of the room (see Trainer’s Notes). 13 . 3. 8. DEBRIEF: The more one knows about his or her own personal communication style. EQUIPMENT: Flipchart MATERIALS: Paper and Pencils PROCEDURE: 1. 4. Walk around the room and unfold each flipchart page. have them share with one another why it is difficult to communicate with another person with that style. the better equipped he or she will be in dealing with those who have similar styles.

listing one of the following descriptors on each sheet. with simple examples: • ACTION STYLE (sets objectives. bold but sometimes unrecognized) 14 . resists pressure. facts. makes quick decisions.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution TRAINERS’ NOTES: Prepare four sheets of flipchart paper in advance. and tactics) • IDEA-SENSITIVE STYLE (enjoys relating to interesting colleagues. pays attention to details such as objectives. likes working on own projects. believes in collective agreement. little interest in ordinary boring activities. may lose sight of entire task. strategies. responds to feedback) • PEOPLE -SENSITIVE STYLE (values teamwork. seeks boss’s approval) • PROCESS DEVELOPMENT STYLE (thoughtful.

4. Ask them to silently read their respective Instruction Slips and then position themselves at the front of the room.I Lose—You Lose 20–25 minutes PURPOSE: To help participants understand the possible consequences of inflexibility in attempting to resolve conflicts. Then raise the same questions as under Paragraph 6.” and “D” PROCEDURE: 1. pitch changes.” “B. Give one volunteer instruction slip “A” and the other instruction slip “B” (see Trainer’s Notes). Instruct the rest of the participants to observe the role play. 8. ask what was different about the second role play. why? • Did anyone try to negotiate with the other party.” 9.) • What did you learn? 7. Call a halt when it becomes obvious what is going on.. 2. they are going to observe different ways people approach conflict resolution. tone changes. etc. or modify or change his or her position? • What were the outcomes? • Were there any surprises? • How do we become more flexible? 15 . First. Ask for two volunteers who would be willing to act out a role play in a given situation. Initiate the first role play (instruction slips “A” and “B”). 6. 3. Ask the rest of the participants to give feedback on what they observed: • What actually happened? • What verbal and nonverbal signals did you observe from either person? (i. 5. Again. Thank the volunteers. Introduce the activity by telling the participants that through role-play. EQUIPMENT: None MATERIALS: Instruction Slips “A. Reconvene the group and lead a general discussion on both role plays: • Were the instructions difficult to follow? If so. bringing in the topic of “flexibility.e. call a halt when it becomes obvious what is going on.” “C. crossing arms. They will also learn the importance of flexibility. Ask for two new volunteers to conduct the second role play (instruction slips “C” and “D”) and follow the earlier procedure.

Instruction C You are the Manager of Customer Service. TRAINER’S NOTES: Prepare four slips of paper with Instructions “A. It was the manager’s idea. Instruction D You are a staff member in the Customer Service Department.” “C. and you want your name to appear as author. you and your manager have worked on a “how to” manual for customer service. and you want your name to appear as author. there has to be a good-faith approach that a comfortable resolution is the goal. It was the manager’s idea. you want your name to appear as the author.” “B.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution DEBRIEF: When two parties work on resolving a conflict. You are not willing to accept anything different. and while you have both worked on the contents. you and another staff member have worked on a “how to” manual for customer service. you want your name to appear as the author. Over the past six months. It is often necessary for one or both parties to be willing to modify their original positions and negotiate toward a mutually satisfactory solution. and while you have both worked on the contents. Over the past six months. You are willing to do what it takes to accomplish this goal. you and your manager have worked on a “how to” manual for customer service. It was your idea. you have come to the decision that the most important thing is to get the work published. Although you feel strongly about this. You are not willing to accept anything different. Instruction A You are the Manager of Customer Service. you and another staff member have worked on a “how to” manual for customer service. Over the past six months. It was your idea. Although you feel strongly about this. Over the past six months.” and “D” so that each pair will have the their assigned slips. Instruction B You are a staff member in the Customer Service Department. but you feel you have done more work on the contents. you have come to the decision that the most important thing is to get the work published. 16 . but you feel you have done more work on the contents. You are willing to do what it takes to accomplish this goal.

EQUIPMENT: Flipchart MATERIALS: Handout #1: Observer Guidelines Handout #2: Approaches to Conflict Resolution Handout #3: Situation for Role Play PROCEDURE: 1. They should also discuss what they think might have been done differently. reminding them that their goal is to resolve the conflict. after which they will examine four major approaches to conflict resolution. Then ask the groups of three to re-form. this time in light of the various approaches. Explain that this activity is designed to give participants a chance to discuss and role-play a scenario. Allow 5–10 minutes for the two paired participants to role-play the situation. 3. Reconvene and ask the Observers to report on what happened during the role play. Have them discuss their role play. Distribute situation slips “A” and “B” from Handout #3 to the two remaining participants in each group. Make sure no one sees anyone else’s instructions. 2. 4. At the same time. Distribute Handout #2: Approaches to Conflict Resolution and review it with the group. Give Handout #1: Observer Guidelines to each Observer. 5.Approaches to Conflict: Role-Play Demonstration 30–45 minutes PURPOSE: To help participants understand that conflict is a natural occurrence. the Observer follows the distributed guidelines and takes notes. Participants will have an opportunity to learn about approaches in general and their own in particular. and that everyone has different approaches in dealing with conflict situations. 17 . Ask them to think about which approach is most comfortable for them. Then discuss what approaches they saw from other participants during the earlier role play. Set up groups of three and have each select one person to be an ObserverReporter for the group.

50 Activities for Conflict Resolution 6. you will be able to anticipate how others might react and adjust your own approach accordingly. One of the most useful is the Cooperation approach (I win–You win). in relation to the approaches that we discussed? • Did this activity help you determine your own natural approach? • What approaches have you seen in other participants? Were the differences noticeable? • What did you learn from this activity? DEBRIEF: There are many approaches to conflict resolution. What is important is to be aware of your own approach and to recognize the approaches other people take. 18 . but there are times when other approaches are also appropriate. Reconvene and lead the discussion by asking the group the following questions: • Were the natural approaches used in the small groups evident. In that way.

Approaches to Conflict: Role Play Demonstration **************************************************** ***** Handout #1 **************************************************** *****

OBSERVER GUIDELINES
DURING THE ROLE PLAY Your task is to observe what goes on in the role play and note the conflict that occurs between participants. Jot down some of your observations about how the participants went about resolving the conflict. Specifically note whether either member withdrew or gave in. Was there competition, or cooperation? AFTER THE ROLE PLAY When the entire group reconvenes, your task is to report on the conflict that occurred and how the pair resolved it.

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50 Activities for Conflict Resolution **************************************************** ***** Handout #2 **************************************************** *****

APPROACHES TO CONFLICT RESOLUTION
AVOIDANCE—(I lose, You lose) Some people do whatever they can to stay away from issues over which conflicts are occurring. They believe it is easier to withdraw than to face conflict, and generally do not like to work with people who are quick to engage in any sort of conflict. COMPETITION—(I win, You lose) Some competitive people believe that “winning is everything” and try to overpower their opponents by forcing their solution on them. Their goals are highly important to them, but the relationship is not. They do not feel that the needs of others are important, and seek to achieve their goals at all costs. COOPERATION—(I win, You win) These people value their own goals and relationships. They view conflicts as problems to be solved and seek solutions where both parties achieve their goals. In fact, they often see conflict as improving relationships by reducing tension between two people. They will go to great lengths to find a solution acceptable to both parties. ADAPTATION—(I lose, You win) People who feel that relations are more important than their personal goals fit the adaptation approach. They want to be liked and accepted by others. Harmony is the most important thing, and they are willing to give up their goals in order to save relationships.

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Approaches to Conflict: Role Play Demonstration **************************************************** ***** Handout #3 **************************************************** *****

SITUATION FOR ROLE PLAY
SITUATION—PARTICIPANT A, role of Bob: You are Bob, regional sales manager for a small manufacturing company that is producing a narrow line of expensive builder’s hardware. You have built up sales in your territory to the highest level in the company. You are now negotiating with a prestigious major distributor, who proposes that the company take your line on a limited national basis. The only catch is that they need an immediate shipment to fill an order from a very large customer. Your inventory is very low, and company policy is that only Helen’s department, Product Scheduling, is allowed to allocate shipments. However, you go directly to Production and talk them into filling your order first on a priority basis, bypassing Product Scheduling. Helen discovers what has happened. She is furious and bawls you out. An argument ensues. SITUATION—PARTICIPANT B, role of Helen: You are Helen, head of Product Scheduling for a small manufacturing company that is producing a narrow line of expensive builder’s hardware. In the course of everyday business, you discover that Bob, regional sales manager, has gone directly to Production and filled a special order for one of his distributors. This diversion of products has thrown your schedule off and upset your entire department. You know that Bob is the “fair–haired boy” in the organization, but you feel this situation goes too far. You grab Bob and bawl him out, and an argument ensues.

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place the cards in the center of the table. Lead a discussion by asking the following questions: • What did you learn? • Were there any surprises? • How can stress alter a person’s ability to resolve conflict? • Did you gain new ideas about how to deal with stress? 23 . it can also reduce our ability to remain calm and objective. 5. Upon receiving someone else’s index card. 4. Explain that they will be involved in an activity that will generate options that can help reduce stress. 2. • Learning how to deal with stress is an important aspect of resolving conflict. and reconvene. Pass out an index card to each participant. Once all participants have written their ideas for each index card. To offer suggestions on how to deal with that stress in a constructive way. 6.When Conflict Creates Stress. Don’t Just Stand There! 30 minutes PURPOSE: To help participants understand that stress may be one of the normal reactions when disputants are engaged in conflict. Each reporter will read aloud the feelings written on the index cards and the list of ideas generated. • The longer a situation goes unresolved. EQUIPMENT: None MATERIALS: Index cards PROCEDURE: 1. Divide participants into groups of four or five. 3. • Unmanaged stress is not only unhealthy from a physical standpoint. the more stressful it can be. Have the groups select a reporter. Instruct them to select the single strongest feeling that caused them stress and write that word on the index card. you will write on it a stress reduction idea for the feeling shown on that card. Ask them to recall a time when they were involved in conflict and tell them to think about the stressful feelings they had. Introduce the topic by making the following points: • Dealing with conflict can be very stressful. Give the following instructions: Pass around to participants in your group the index card on which you have written a feeling.

Try using some of the suggestions provided by other participants in this activity.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution DEBRIEF: Stress is a normal part of conflict resolution. you might wish to draw from the following suggestions: Feelings Sometimes Associated with Stress Anger Disappointment Blame Ways to Overcome Stress Play music Keep a journal Rest Take a walk Talk to friends Go for a drive Additional Things to Think About Finding out more about the situation Reviewing the situation objectively Accepting the situation as it is Drawing on past experiences Seeking advice Exploring different possible solutions Eat right Cut back on caffeine Meditate Avoid alcohol Exercise Sadness Guilt Feeling of being overwhelmed 24 . TRAINER’S NOTES: If the participants need help in expressing feelings about stress and stress reduction. Learning to deal with stress begins by identifying the feelings associated with stress and using a variety of approaches to reduce stress.

If most answers fell into the “c.Introduction to Listening: A Self-Inventory 15–20 minutes PURPOSE: To help participants understand the importance of listening in a conflict situation. (For example.” or “e” categories. Issues become more complicated when people are trying a resolve a conflict and major points are not heard correctly. EQUIPMENT: Flipchart MATERIALS: Handout #1: Listening Inventory PROCEDURE: 1 Discuss the importance of good listening in conflict situations by asking participants what their thoughts are on the importance of listening in conflict situations. the characteristics of good listeners. Distribute Handout #1 and ask participants to answer each question. Record the answers on the flipchart. then. 25 .” “d. 6.” they probably possess. Explain that listening is difficult in many situations. and to give participants an opportunity to assess their present listening skills. 4. using the instructions provided.) 3. Ask how many were surprised with their scores. When participants are finished. Tell the participants that if most of their answers to the self-inventory were either “a” or “b. to some degree. the participants probably need to improve their listening habits. 5. or one in which lack of listening made resolution more difficult. but especially so when a dispute is involved. 2 Divide the group into pairs and ask participants to discuss a conflict they were involved in where they believed careful listening would have been helpful. Allow 5 or 10 minutes. ask for a show of hands as to whether participants consider themselves good listeners based on the self-inventory scores. score their inventory. the participant or another person was thinking ahead about a response or a solution and consequently a whole series of dollar amounts were being considered incorrectly.

There are other activities that deal with listening and responding. however. without careful listening. No matter how you answered the questionnaire.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution DEBRIEF: Listening is one of the most important communication skills in conflict resolution. Now you know what to work on to become a better listener. responses often lead to further misunderstandings and the situation can worsen. good listening requires constant practice in concentrating. 26 .

Don’t know/unaware b. No c. Read each question carefully and check one of the five answers listed. Yes 2. Not as much as I should 3.Introduction to Listening: A Self-Inventory **************************************************** ***** Handout #1 **************************************************** ***** Listening Self-Inventory This exercise was developed to help you review and describe your typical listening style. Sometimes d. Sometimes d. Often e. Do you use this excess time to turn your thoughts elsewhere while you are keeping track of a conversation? a. 1. Sometimes d. either in your own mind or by interrupting the speaker? a. No c. do you go out of your way to avoid hearing about it? a. Do emotions interfere with your listening? a. Usually e. Don’t know/unaware b. Research suggests that you think four times faster than a person usually talks to you. Don’t know/unaware c. Yes 27 e. Sometimes d. Do you generally talk more than listen in an interchange with someone else? a. Seldom c. If you feel that it would take a lot of time and effort to understand something. Do you listen for the feelings behind facts when someone is speaking? a. No c. Most of the time e. Don’t know/unaware b. Sometimes d. Very frequently 6. No c. Don’t know/unaware . Usually b. Yes 5. Almost always d. Usually e. Yes 4. Almost never b. Usually e. Don’t know/unaware b. When you are puzzled or annoyed by what someone says. do you try to get the question straightened out immediately.

Don’t know/unaware c. Often e. Not as much as I should Scoring: If most of your answers were a. When listening to someone who speaks with an accent. Not as much as I should 11. Very frequently 10. you probably possess the ability to concentrate and to recognize the speaker’s emotions. Don’t know/unaware c. or b. When someone is talking to you. Almost always d. Don’t know/unaware b. Sometimes d. Do you listen carefully to the opinions of others. Seldom c. do you make a conscious effort to make and keep eye contact with the speaker? a. 1994 7. Almost never b. Often e. Don’t know/unaware b. or e. you need to develop these characteristics more fully. Almost always d. Most of the time e. When you are listening to someone speak. Do you deliberately turn your thoughts to other subjects when you believe a speaker will have nothing particularly interesting to say? a. Most of the time e. When you are listening to someone. do you try to make him/her think you’re paying attention when you are not? a. Seldom c. are you easily sidetracked by outside distractions (people and events)? a. Often e. If most answers were c. do you make a greater effort to concentrate on what the person is saying? a. HRD Press. Seldom c. d. Sometimes d. Don’t know/unaware b. though you may intend to take exception to something later on? a. Most of the time e. Don’t know/unaware c. Very frequently 9. 28 . Not as much as I should 12. Almost never b. Sometimes d. Very frequently 8.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution Reproduced from 50 Activities for Diversity Training by Jonamay Lambert and Selma Myers. Almost always d. Almost never b.

1994 29 .Introduction to Listening: A Self-Inventory Reproduced from 50 Activities for Diversity Training by Jonamay Lambert and Selma Myers. HRD Press.

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III UNDERSTANDING CONFLICT .

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giving each pair one section of rope.Tug of War or Peace 15–20 minutes PURPOSE: To see the extent that individuals will go in holding on to a position. with each member of the pair taking one end of the rope and pulling as hard as possible. Divide participants into pairs of the same gender. How hard a person strives to maintain a position depends on many factors. Try observing “tugs of war” at work. On the other hand. Explain that the goal of this activity is to set up a tug of war. MATERIALS: None PROCEDURE: 1. it’s often difficult for a person to give in. DEBRIEF: This activity represents conflict in microcosm: there is a winner and a loser. EQUIPMENT: Enough pieces of fairly strong rope (each about 3-feet long) based on the number of pairs into which the group can be divided. Reconvene and discuss the following questions: • How long were you willing to keep pulling? Would it have made any difference if there had been a prize for the winner? • What precipitated the decision to let go? • Who decided to quit first. people keep pulling as long as they feel safe. Let the pairs determine who gives up and when. Perhaps they believe that holding on to their position may result in a reward or benefit. and why? • How did that affect the other person? • Explain how you can relate this experience to disputes at work. 3. 2. Basically. one’s natural style (such as the tendency to avoid conflict) will influence the decision to hold on or to let go of a position. 33 . In some cases.

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Red Flags 30–40 minutes PURPOSE: To give participants an opportunity to examine phrases that often create or escalate conflict. this time to identify words or phrases they think can help avoid conflict or reduce it.” 2. 4. Allow 5 minutes. Tell participants you will time them. Pair up participants and ask each pair to come up with phrases that often appear in conflicts (sending up a red flag). Then ask the pairs to work together again.” “Your problem is…. Discuss what the red flags were and write them on the flipchart.” “Don’t tell me what I’m thinking. 3. Introduce the activity by telling the participants they are going to look at counterproductive words and phrases that often create or escalate conflict— that is. At the end of the time. the words and phrases that send up a “red flag” or make you “see red. and then see which pair comes in with the most phrases in 5 minutes. Ask questions such as: • Have you been in a conflict where words or phrases from the first group were used? How did you feel? What effect did this have on the resolution of the conflict? • What happens when you hear words and phrases like those in the second group? • Which of the two assignments was easier? 35 . Give examples such as “You always…. DEBRIEF: Discuss the impact of language on conflict. EQUIPMENT: Flipchart MATERIALS: None PROCEDURE: 1. either causing or escalating conflict. have participants call out their new words or phrases and write them on the flipchart. have people call out the words or phrases they came up with.” etc. At the end of the 5 minutes. 5.

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Tell the other group to discuss and write down the barriers they might find when a third party enters the process. cultural differences. church leaders. 3. EQUIPMENT: Flipchart MATERIALS: Pencils and paper PROCEDURE: 1. it is important to understand that it comes with barriers that must be overcome. nonbinding arbitrators. including nonprofessional or professional neutrals such as mediators. etc. 4. 2. counselors.” 7. Instruct one group to discuss and write down the benefits they might find when a third party enters the process. While third-party intervention can be very helpful. Divide the participants into two groups and ask each to appoint a reporter. legal requirements. 5. Discuss which conflict situations are likely to call for a third-party intervention. Examples could be the unwillingness of involved parties to change. 37 . etc. 6. Briefly discuss what constitutes third-party intervention. Write the responses on a flipchart under two headings: “Benefits” and “Barriers. DEBRIEF: Individuals many times give up on resolving conflict before even considering the use of an outside neutral party to help. Explain that it is important to first look at the benefits and the barriers to bringing in an outside or neutral party before engaging one. Reconvene and have the two reporters call out their respective lists of pros and cons of third-party intervention.Benefits and Barriers: Exploring Third-Party Intervention 30 minutes PURPOSE: To explore the advantages and disadvantages of using a third party to help in resolving a conflict. Lead a discussion of the effect of these third-party benefits and barriers on various aspects of conflict resolution.

depending on the professional and the length of the case Difficulty in locating a qualified but neutral party Neutral party cannot take sides.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution TRAINER’S GUIDE: If the participants have difficulty thinking of specific benefits and barriers of third-party intervention. Barriers Cost. or may have his or her own agenda Possibility that a strong neutral party may “overstructure” the process Neutral party cannot be someone likely to lose patience Benefits Cost normally much less than litigation Neutral person can keep the process on track Neutral party brings a fresh perspective to the conflict Neutral party can be a go-between for contesting parties who are loath to face each other or consider compromise Decisions are made by both sides. the trainer may suggest some possibilities from the following lists to spark their imagination. not by the third-party 38 .

Consequently. 4. 3. EQUIPMENT: Either an overhead projector or flipchart MATERIALS: Previously-prepared Instruction Slips (see Trainer’s Notes). Summarize by using Principles in Communicating either as a transparency or on a flipchart. 2. 5. the more one knows about the impact of nonverbal communication on conflict. [Important: The partner with the instruction slip must follow his or her instructions. Explain to the group that nonverbal behavior constantly delivers communication messages. Master for Transparency: Four Principles in Communicating PROCEDURE: 1. 6.).] Call a halt after allowing about 5 minutes for the role play.Mismatched? Are You Reading the Nonverbal Clues? 30–40 minutes PURPOSE: To allow participants to experience the significance of nonverbal behavior (body language) and explore its relationship to an understanding of the other side. favorite TV show. Ask the participants who did not receive instruction slips to guess the specific nonverbal behavior their partners were exhibiting. 39 . a controversial movie. Begin a discussion. Tell all the pairs to choose ordinary topics (traffic congestion. Reconvene and discuss the following questions: • What happened? • How many people correctly guessed the nonverbal behavior the partner with the instruction slips was exhibiting? • What specific nonverbal behaviors did the partner use? • How did both partners feel? • How do you think nonverbal communication impacts conflict situations? 7. the more successful the resolution can be. etc. Tell the group that there will be a role play and that you will be passing out instructions. Ask the selected partner to read his or her instruction slip silently. Hand out a single randomly chosen instruction slip to one member of each pair. Pair up the participants. warning the recipient not to share the instructions with his or her partner.

Neurolinguistic researchers have found that the person receiving the message you are sending interprets about 65 percent of that message through nonverbal communication. You are sad. Do what comes naturally. Let your partner know this nonverbally. cut to a convenient size. TRAINER’S NOTES: Make enough copies of the following instruction slips. downward frown. Think of a situation where you felt this way and recall your feelings. often our nonverbal behavior is largely unconscious. but some ideas might include: tongue in cheek. This activity focuses on a Western view. Look around. and use other nonverbal behaviors that indicate lack of interest. beliefs. attitudes. A. crying. Exhibit nonverbal behaviors that let your partner know that you are down. D. jumping up and down. waving arms. Note: Interpretation of body language varies around the world. check your watch. In any situation we need to be aware that we are sending nonverbal messages. Pay no attention to what your partner is saying. Do what is natural for you. 40 .50 Activities for Conflict Resolution DEBRIEF: Communication is not always easy. averting eyes downward. Perhaps you are holding your head in your hands. yawn. Do what comes naturally for you. Think of a situation where you felt this way and recall your feelings. Think of a situation where you felt this way and recall your feelings. because we listen and respond to others based on our feelings. You are angry. Exhibit nonverbal behaviors that let your partner know you are angry. C. Some examples might include: nodding head. but in conflict situations we must be even more diligent because our feelings and attitudes influence the nonverbal messages we send and receive. Do what comes naturally for you. and values. B. While we can choose our words. shaking head side-to-side in disbelief. You are disinterested. Think of a situation where you felt this way and recall your feelings. You are excited. What we say orally is only a small part of communication. What that means is that the words you use and your tone of voice are not as significant as the nonverbal signals you are sending when you convey a message. clapping.

Mismatched? Are You Reading the Nonverbal Clues? FOUR PRINCIPLES OF COMMUNICATION • Everyone communicates verbally and nonverbally. • There are numerous communication styles within racial. 41 . • All communication is culture-bound. • Every individual is a product of his or her own culture. consciously and unconsciously. gender. and ethnic groups.

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EQUIPMENT: Flipchart MATERIALS: Pencils and paper PROCEDURE: 1. Repeat as above. (Examples: “Destroys relationships” or “Increases stress level. rather than destructive. Reconvene the group and lead a discussion on the destructive and constructive elements of conflict.) 4. Pair up participants and ask them to discuss and write down the aspects of conflict that they see as destructive. asking questions such as: • • • • Which was easier to discuss and why? What surprises did you find when the entire group reported out? How do you think most people at work feel about conflict? What are the lessons you learned from this activity? DEBRIEF: It is important to see conflict as contributing to personal growth.) 3. Have the pairs reconvene. It is significant that a win-win solution diminishes the destructive impact of conflict and offers a positive force for the organization as well as for the individual. you can find additional suggestions under Trainer’s Notes.) Allow 5–10 minutes. (There are additional constructive conflict suggestions under Trainer’s Notes. ask for their comments.” etc. Evaluating both destructive and constructive conflict can lead one to recognize the advantages of a win-win solution. and list them on the flipchart under the heading of Destructive Conflicts. Then allow about 5–10 minutes for the paired participants to repeat the above process.Constructive or Destructive Conflict: Lessons to Be Learned 45 minutes PURPOSE: To determine how some conflict can be constructive. 43 . 2. (If people need help. this time discussing and writing down the aspects of conflict that they see as constructive. listing on the flipchart the results of their work under the heading of Constructive Conflict.

and raised voices the conflict prevents or stops people from working Conflict is constructive when it: • • • • • • leads to resolution builds a strong relationship with improved communication opens people up to new ideas leads to a win-win resolution develops common goals clarifies a problem situation and leads to positive change 44 . anger. here are some examples: Conflict is destructive when: • • • • • one person has to give in too much (win-lose) the dispute hurts a relationship there is no agreement reached there are uncontrolled emotions.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution TRAINER’S NOTES: If the participants have difficulty thinking of specific destructive and/or constructive aspects.

IV VALUES AND PERCEPTIONS .

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he or she can come and look over your shoulder.Gaining a Different Perspective 15–20 minutes PURPOSE: To help participants realize that in a conflict situation they may have to change their position in order to see things from a different perspective. Have the participants count off as As and Bs. PROCEDURE: 1. Give the As a few seconds to look over the instructions before they say anything to their partners. standing face-to-face. TRAINER’S NOTES: It’s a good idea to begin with a deck of cards that has an unusual pattern on the back. have the group reconvene and ask the following questions: • What gets in the way of seeing different perspectives? • What might be helpful ways to gain different perspectives? • What is at stake when learning about a different perspective? DEBRIEF: This activity reminds us that people often do not see both sides of a conflict in the same way. Explain that you do not see the same thing and suggest that in order for your partner to see what you see. EQUIPMENT: None MATERIALS: Enough picture cards and envelopes so that when the group is divided into pairs. stand up and hold up your card with its face toward you. Give the signal to begin. each pair has one card and an envelope. Ask each A to select a B. 47 . and then allow a minute or two for participants to follow the instructions and discuss what each person saw. It sometimes takes moving from one position to another to understand someone else’s point of view. Ask the other member of the pair to describe what he or she sees. and ask the As to come forward to collect envelopes with instruction slips (see Trainer’s Notes). 4. and pair up in a place where they can quietly talk. not letting your partner see your side of the card. and then have them wait for a signal to begin. Prepare in advance slips of paper that read as follows: At the start signal. 3. After participants have moved to see the other side of the card. 2.

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Allow about 3 minutes. family. education level. unverified assumptions can escalate and put the entire resolution process on a slippery slope. place of birth. and then instruct all participants to stop. ethnicity. Once the partners have been chosen. 4. instruct them to remain silent. quite often they are flawed. 2. Tell them to write down what they believe to be true about their partners. Again remind them that they are not permitted to speak. 5.Assumptions: Who Needs ‘Em? 10 minutes Purpose: To be aware of how the assumptions we make about a person may prove to be a disadvantage. 49 . they will be guessing such factors as occupation. Although it’s possible that our assumptions are correct. Collecting the data. checking out the assumptions. Remember. EQUIPMENT: Flipchart MATERIALS: Pencils and paper PROCEDURE: 1. and reevaluating first impressions are important steps in any conflict situation. In other words. etc. Carried to an extreme. your partner may also be making assumptions about you. Reconvene and ask the following questions: • • • • Was anyone correct about most of the assumptions they made? How easy or difficult was this exercise? How did you make your guesses? How do assumptions about others influence conflict resolution? DEBRIEF: Making assumptions is something most of us do from time to time. Ask participants to choose a partner they do not know. 3. and these may be just as invalid as your assumptions about him or her.

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Review the story of the Big Bad Wolf.The Big Bad Wolf. Now instruct each group to write a letter that defines a peaceful solution to this story. and the Hunter to Group 4. have the Reporters call out the reasons. one in which every character feels they win. Ask each group to read their letter aloud to the other characters. Grandma to Group 2. the Big Bad Wolf to Group 3. Or Is It? 45 minutes PURPOSE: To acknowledge different perspectives and learn to find creative solutions for all parties involved in a conflict situation. Assign the role of Little Red Riding Hood to Group 1. using the handout. Discuss why we might use this story to talk about conflict. Have each group select a Reporter. 7. Allow about 10 minutes. one in which all the characters feel they win? [Allow about 10 minutes for this question. handout: Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf PROCEDURE: 1. 6. Allow about 10 minutes. 3.] • How does this relate to real work experiences? • What did you learn from this activity? 51 . Otherwise. 4. Lead a discussion with the following questions: • What was easy or difficult about this activity? • What was required to come up with a peaceful solution to this story. 8. If a flipchart is available. EQUIPMENT: Flipchart MATERIALS: Pencils and paper. Tell each group to discuss the reasons its character behaved in the way the story said. Divide participants into four groups. have the Reporters list the reasons their groups came up with. 2. 5.

50 Activities for Conflict Resolution DEBRIEF: This children’s story is a metaphor for many life experiences. and perhaps even violently. wherein the Hunter kills the Wolf. The task is to find a rational way to have the parties resolve the potential conflict in an original and creative manner. all the characters do what is only natural for themselves. Up to a point. 52 . The challenge is to see the characters in a new light and recognize that there are other points of view. The original version. represents the way in which many real life disputes end (unresolved).

Most of you have heard the ending. and devised a plan to eat both Red Riding Hood and Grandma. He shot the wolf and they lived happily ever after.” instead of “Better to hear you with. a hunter passing by heard the screams of Little Red Riding Hood and rushed to her rescue. my dear.” and prepared to attack Little Red Riding Hood. and big teeth. but nonviolent ending. got into her bed. we are going to look at this story from the points of view of all the characters. Your group’s assignment is to examine the situation from the perspective of your character and then write an original. she made comments about the big eyes. Yet because this activity is to help gain an understanding of different points of view. The wolf reached Grandma’s house before Little Red Riding Hood arrived and tied up Grandma and put her in the closet. You must conclude with a win-win-win-win situation. “Better to eat you with. “Little Red Riding Hood went to visit her sick grandmother to take her some food. which is boldly stated. Along the way she met a wolf. When Little Red Riding Hood arrived and saw what she thought was Grandma. “…and the wolf was shot by the hunter!!!” We all know it from the point of view of Little Red Riding Hood. The wolf as Grandma answered with the famous words: “Better to see you with. He then disguised himself as Grandma.” He then jumped up and exclaimed. 53 . my dear. At that time.The Big Bad Wolf: Or Is It? Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf Most of you know the story of the little girl who goes into the woods to take her sick grandmother a basket of goodies. big ears. my dear. rational ending to the story. Then he made some decisions of his own.” Sometimes children learn this story with a contrived. who found out what she was doing and where she was going.

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EQUIPMENT: Flipchart MATERIALS: Pencils. reconvene the group and ask them to report on their discussions. After several minutes. 4. Pair up participants and ask them to compare their lists and discuss their selections. The assignment is to review the flipchart responses and select the one person they feel most worthy to represent the finest example of a Peacemaker. Handout: Comparison of Users of Violence with Non-Users of Violence PROCEDURE: 1. Pass out the handout and ask participants to list in the left-hand column several well-known figures who used violence to resolve conflict situations. In the right-hand column. was it easier to think of those who are or were known to use violence. Use the flipchart to record the names of the people they selected. forming groups of four. 6. 3. 5.Portrait of a Peacemaker 40 minutes PURPOSE: To examine the qualities of peacemakers. or to think of the peacemakers? • What does that tell you about our society in general? • How might any course of events have been changed if those who promoted violence had applied the same qualities and skills used by peacemakers? 55 . Ask participants to return to their partners and then join up with another pair. list other well-known people who used nonviolent means.” defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary as “…persons who make peace by settling the disagreements of others. Then ask them to write down the qualities they see shared by the various peacemakers. paper. Perhaps the best way to explain their task is to tell them to look for the person most likely to receive “The Peacemaker of the Century” award (as if there is such an award). who avoid violence in favor of resolving conflicts through peaceful means. and also the overall qualities they found common to the various peacemakers.” 2. Have the groups report out and lead a discussion using questions such as the following: • In the beginning of the activity. This activity is about “Peacemakers.

focus on peacemakers and peacemaker characteristics in general.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution DEBRIEF: Everyday we learn about leaders and conflict. and learn as much as you can from them. and we have only touched the surface by discussing the peacemakers and their qualities. This topic is a complex one. violence-prone parties often have a personal agenda in which power is more important than resolution. 56 . It is important to recognize that in many conflict situations. Therefore. This activity gives us a chance to look beyond the workplace and immediate conflict situations and explore the qualities of successful peacemakers.

Portrait of a Peacemaker Handout Comparison of Users of Violence to Non-Users of Violence People known for their use of violence People known for making peace without the use of violence 57 .

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V RESOLVING CONFLICT SITUATIONS .

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5. Ask for examples of each type and record the responses on the flipchart in one of two columns headed “Yes-No” and “Open-Ended.] At the signal to begin. one partner will ask only yes-no questions on the chosen topic. and the other will reply. but the questions will be open-ended. Call “time” and reconvene the 61 . and practice how to ask the best questions when trying to resolve a conflict EQUIPMENT: Flipchart MATERIALS: None PROCEDURE: 1. ask them to call out their ideas of various types of questions. Acknowledge all the answers as valid. Make sure the participants understand the instructions. (The objective is to lead into the concepts of “yes-no” and “open-ended” questions.) 4. Give the start signal for the first set of questions (yes-no). Ask the participants which types of questions they think are most important. these are often the key questions.” wait a few moments. There are many kinds of communication skills. and this activity deals with one of the most important: Questioning. [See Trainer’s Notes. Tell the participants they will have an opportunity to practice asking questions. 2. then give the signal for the second set of questions (open-ended). the partners will reverse roles.What Kind of Question Is That? 30–40 minutes PURPOSE: To help participants learn about “yes-no” and “open-ended” questions. again allowing 3 or 4 minutes. point out that in conflict resolution. Pairs may select a topic of their own or choose from the suggested topics on the flipchart. Explain to the group that one of the main factors in resolving a conflict is communication. At the next signal. allowing 3 or 4 minutes. but before they do. Pair up participants and instruct them as follows: You will now be dealing with a discussion topic. 3. Call “time. Discuss with the participants phrasing differences in each of the two key question types.) If the participants did not bring up these two concepts.” (See Trainer’s Notes for examples.

• The speed limit should be raised to 80 mph on rural interstate highways. .? Did you follow instructions? Open-Ended What is your opinion on .? Did you give permission to . . for the most part. 62 .50 Activities for Conflict Resolution group. should be reduced from 40 hours to 32 hours. . Describe the instructions. • All films and shows on TV should have a limit as to the number of commercials.? Tell me about what happened. either agreement or disagreement. TRAINER’S NOTES: (FLIPCHART) EXAMPLES OF KEY QUESTIONS Yes-No Do you have an opinion on .S. . Lead a discussion comparing the information that was brought out with both types of questions. However. OR SELECT A TOPIC OF YOUR OWN. If you are looking to gain greater insight or explore details in-depth. (FLIPCHART) SUGGESTED DISCUSSION TOPICS • Medium and large-size companies should be required to offer day care programs for their employees. . yes-no questions provide very little information. . the open-ended questions will produce better results. as follows: • How did you feel when you were asked the yes-no questions? • What about the open-ended questions? • Which of the two types of questions is easier to make up? • Which was the easier to answer? • What did you learn from this activity? DEBRIEF: There are times when yes-no questions are effective. such as when you are looking for a quick answer. 6. • The standard work week in the U.

Divide participants into two groups.Brainstorming: The Case of the Stolen Account 40 minutes PURPOSE: To learn how brainstorming can be helpful in resolving conflict. At your signal. Ask participants to read the handout silently. Give each group copies of the appropriate handout (“Fred” or “Al”). Allow 10 minutes and then call “time. 4. 3. EQUIPMENT: 2 flipcharts MATERIALS: Handout #1: The Case of the Stolen Account—Fred Handout #2: The Case of the Stolen Account—Al PROCEDURE: 1. The recorders will record the brainstormed ideas from their respective groups. 7. Appoint a recorder for each group. Explain that participants will apply the brainstorming technique to a conflict issue. With the help of the participants. review brainstorming by writing the basic elements on a flipchart. Lead the discussion by asking the group: • Are there any similarities in the ideas brainstormed by the two groups? Any major differences? • Do you believe the ideas brainstormed by the two groups will lead to a resolution? Why? Why not? 63 . 5. based on the information in the handout. 6.) 2. they should start brainstorming.” and locate them as far away from each other as possible. (Make sure all participants are familiar with the process.” Reconvene the full group and place the two flipchart pages next to each other. “Fred” and “Al.

64 . Al’s largest customer is Accelerated Technologies. One day. He has a hot new project that involves a major-volume purchase of your company’s high-margin product. and regardless of the circumstances. The teams are assigned geographical territories. Fred points out that the Accelerated office that placed the order is in his territory. The two teams have always gotten along well. of Marketing rules that the two teams should resolve the matter themselves. you and your fellow team members must brainstorm the issues and suggest a resolution to the conflict between the two teams. but he is away on a medical emergency (not life-threatening). The company sells through six teams of sales engineers. but the product will require a certain degree of reengineering. and the group leader demands immediate action or he will go to his second source. At the given signal. Al claims that Accelerated has always been his team’s account. You notify Fred of the opportunity and he agrees that the matter requires immediate action.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution Handout #1 The Case of the Stolen Account—Fred You work for a medium-sized company that manufactures and sells highly engineered industrial products. but from a new Accelerated office located in Fred’s territory. To encourage volume sales. you field a call from a new group leader at Accelerated who is unfamiliar with Fred or Al—someone your company has never dealt with. he and his team rescued the big order for the company. he should be credited with the sale. He gets on the phone with the group leader and works out a satisfactory solution. and you are a member of Fred’s team. The V. and its territory is adjacent to Fred’s. Al would be the logical one to pass the call on to. its high dollar value suggests that his group will win the Achiever’s Award. the company has just begun an annual Achiever’s Award program in which the six teams compete against each other in exceeding their sales forecasts. Fred claims credit for the sale.P. Al’s team of sales engineers is similar to Fred’s. which accounts for 25 percent of his team’s annual volume. The prize is a luxurious all-expenses-paid week in Hawaii for the winning team and their families. Fred’s team does the reengineering and the big order comes through. and anyhow. No other member of Al’s team is available.

its high dollar value suggests that his group will win the Achiever’s Award. One day. but he is away on a medical emergency (not life-threatening). The V. He gets on the phone with the group leader and works out a satisfactory solution. 65 . you take a call from a new group leader at Accelerated who is unfamiliar with Fred or Al—someone your company has never dealt with. The two teams have always gotten along well. You decide to notify Fred of the opportunity. The teams are assigned geographical territories. of Marketing rules that the two teams should resolve the matter themselves. At the given signal. but from a new Accelerated office located in Fred’s territory.P. Al would be the logical one to pass the call on to. The company sells through six teams of sales engineers. To encourage volume sales. Fred’s team of sales engineers is similar to Al’s. Fred’s team does the reengineering and the big order comes through. and you are a member of Al’s team. but it will require a certain degree of reengineering. and its territory is adjacent to Al’s. which accounts for 25 percent of his team’s annual volume. Al’s largest customer is Accelerated Technologies. and anyhow. and he agrees that the matter requires immediate action. Fred points out that the Accelerated office that placed the order is in his territory. but the group leader demands immediate action or he will go to his second source. he should be credited with the sale. you and your fellow team members must brainstorm the issues and suggest a resolution to the conflict between the two teams.Brainstorming: The Case of the Stolen Account Handout #2 The Case of the Stolen Account—Al You work for a medium-sized company that manufactures and sells highly engineered industrial products. Fred claims credit for the sale. Al claims that Accelerated has always been his team’s account and regardless of the circumstances. Neither you nor other members of Al’s team have the authority or expertise to handle the situation. The prize is a luxurious all-expenses-paid week in Hawaii for the winning team and their families. He has a hot new project that involves a large volume buy of your company’s high margin product. he and his team rescued the big order for the company. the company has just begun an annual Achiever’s Award program in which the six teams compete against each other in exceeding their sales forecasts.

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loss of perquisites. which we recognize as resistance-indicators. and appropriate strategies such as suggesting alternatives ought to be employed. etc. 2. . which would actively seek and carry out more special projects and thus give Charlie a stronger role in the department. For example. perspiration. To deal with resistance situations by offering options EQUIPMENT: Flipchart MATERIALS: Handout #1: Wayne Got the Promotion Handout #2: Charlie Came in Second PROCEDURE: 1. Point out that body language indicators are clear signals that resistance is present.Resistance. 4. Explain that this activity is useful in learning to recognize resistance and overcome it by offering options. reduction in status. Tell the group that the second part of this activity addresses options. Allow about 10 minutes and then instruct all participants to stop. Ask participants to follow the instructions on their handouts and engage in a dialogue as directed. 5.) 6.. 67 . he or she quite often shows emotions in body language. To show participants how to recognize and understand resistance situations 2. Point out that when someone is faced with disagreeable situations such as unpleasant work assignments. Give the respective handouts to the appropriate parties and ask the participants not to share them. (The participants are encouraged to add creative comments. Examples would be rolling of eyes (or loss of eye contact). Pair up the participants and explain that one partner will become Wayne and the other Charlie.Options to the Rescue! 30 minutes PURPOSE: 1. 7. Have the participants suggest typical resistance-indicators and list them on the flipchart. one option could be that Wayne will have Charlie set up an informal sub-team within the graphics department. raised voice. as long as they stay within the characters and motivations they have been assigned. . artificial half-smile. 3. etc.

50 Activities for Conflict Resolution 8. Reconvene and have each pair report out on the options they developed. Lead a discussion addressing the following questions: • What did you learn from this activity? • Were the suggested options practical, and did they meet the core objectives of both Wayne and Charlie? • After the activity was over, was there less resistance than at the beginning? More resistance? • If more resistance, what could have been done to make certain that resistance was not increased but lessened? DEBRIEF: In exploring options, both parties should first analyze how each is affected by a change in circumstances, in this case the original departmental reorganization. The interests of each party should be examined so that both individuals work toward gaining satisfaction from mutually acceptable options. Practical options need to be explored and the pros and cons examined. Finally, after an option is selected, the resulting action steps should be clearly understood, reviewing what each party will do to make the new arrangement work.

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Resistance. . .Options to the Rescue! Handout #1

Wayne Got the Promotion
You are Wayne and for five years you have headed a six-person graphics department. Also for five years, Charlie has headed another six-person graphics department that services different kinds of clients. You and Charlie are considered peer managers. Today, you invite Charlie into your office and explain that the company will be undertaking a major reorganization. The boss has decided that there is no need to maintain two graphics departments, so Charlie’s department will be merged into yours. The combined department will report to you as Director of Graphics, and Charlie will be the Assistant Director of Graphics. Three artists will be laid off, and Charlie will divide his time between administrative duties and working at the board on special projects. Charlie is astonished, hurt, and resistant. You remain calm and suggest that together you will look at alternative options. However, your unspoken core objective is that you must retain the key elements of your power base. (There will be no mention of salary.)

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50 Activities for Conflict Resolution Handout #2

Charlie Came in Second
You are Charlie and for five years you have headed a six-person graphics department. Also for five years, Wayne has headed another six-person graphics department that services different kinds of clients. You and Charlie are considered peer managers. Today, Wayne invites you into his office and explains that the company will be undertaking a major reorganization. The boss has decided that there is no need to maintain two graphics departments, so your department will be merged into Wayne’s. The combined department will report to Wayne as Director of Graphics, and you will be the Assistant Director of Graphics. Three artists will be laid off, and you are supposed to divide your time between administrative duties and working at the board on special projects. You are astonished, hurt, and resistant. You recover and agree to consider other options. Your core objective is to protect the advances you have made in your career and to continue your advancement. (There will be no mention of salary.)

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“Listening for Point of View” (see Trainer’s Notes). 71 .” Have the pairs report out. Show the prepared flipchart. or using positive voice tones). Show the prepared flipchart.” and “It lets you check your understanding before you react to what was said. one of the most important skills in listening is paraphrasing.” “It encourages the speaker to expand on what he or she is saying. “It helps the other person feel listened to. Pair the participants and ask each pair to suggest two or three advantages of paraphrasing. 3. Discuss how effective listening requires active participation on the part of the listener—the use of such techniques as positive body language and meaningful questions and behaviors that encourage the speaker to continue (such as responding with “Uh huh. Ask participants to review what they already know about listening and ask for comments as to why listening is important in conflict resolution. 5. In addition. defined as “stating in different words what someone has said without losing the essential meaning of the original. toss in ideas like.” Paraphrasing is not parroting or repeating word-for-word what the speaker said. 2. 4. If the participants need help getting started.Listening for the Other Person’s Point of View: Paraphrasing 20 minutes PURPOSE: To emphasize the importance of listening to the other side in a conflict and initially responding by using the valuable skill of paraphrasing. EQUIPMENT: Flipchart MATERIALS: None PROCEDURE: 1.” nodding. And paraphrasing calls for careful listening from the start if one is to use paraphrasing to help understand the other person’s point of view. Five Criteria for Successful Paraphrasing (see Trainer’s Notes).

tell them to write as if they are individually talking directly to you. Paraphrasing what was heard helps both parties in conflict and shows that we are listening carefully to what is being said. It also creates an opportunity to hear again what has been stated. ask the participants to discuss among themselves their respective paraphrasing. Using the five criteria on the flipchart. what was said). nor subtracting from. DEBRIEF: The ability to paraphrase is a skill that can be learned. • We also listen for the feelings expressed by the other person. TRAINER’S NOTES: Prepare flipchart entitled “Listening for Point of View” • We listen for content in the form of the main idea of what a person is saying. to paraphrase your statement. Ask for examples of what the participants wrote and hold a discussion about paraphrasing with the full group. • We are listening for the person’s values or the ideas that are important to him or her. and it is extremely helpful in resolving conflict. • Begin with phrases that verify your understanding of what has been said and how the other party feels. Instruct the participants to listen and write what they would say to demonstrate their understanding of your original statement—that is. • Be original in your own words. Prepare second flipchart entitled “Five Criteria for Successful Paraphrasing” • Be interchangeable (neither adding to. • Convey neither approval nor disapproval.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution 6. 7. • Be brief. After the written responses are completed. and it is a chance for the speaker to correct any impressions that may be incorrect. Describe a conflict situation you’ve experienced—something important to you—or ask a volunteer to describe one. 72 .

) 5. Ask participants to think of a time when they were involved in a difficult workplace conflict when a mediator could have been used to help them. 73 . Allow about 5 minutes. as a group. and lead the disputants into exploring possible options for resolution. Reconvene and. The role of the mediator (often a manager or senior adviser) is to listen carefully to both sides. The significance of mediation is that it is a “win-win” situation. With mediation. EQUIPMENT: Flipchart MATERIALS: Handout #1: Model Depicting “Stages of Mediation” Handout #2: Scenarios for Mediation Role Play PROCEDURE: 1. help identify the underlying issues. A model and an opportunity to practice specific mediation situations will be offered. exchange ideas about the impact of a neutral third-party mediator in helping resolve conflict situations. and the other two will be the disputants. Arrange the participants in groups of three and explain that one person will be the mediator. Now that the participants have looked at the four stages. 2. (It is truly remarkable how people can cooperate when they realize that they have the power to resolve their problems themselves. Explain that this activity will review the process of mediation and help participants understand the advantage of using mediation to reach an agreement when dealing with workplace disputes. Present a lecturette explaining that mediation is a process in which disputants meet with a third party and jointly explore the conflict situation. to learn the stages of mediation and how to practice them. Distribute Handout #1 and review the model depicting the stages of mediation with the group. 6. explain that they will have a chance to discuss and role-play two conflict scenarios. 3. 4. Pair participants and have them discuss some real-life situations in which a mediator might have been helpful. or perhaps some examples where a mediator was used.Third-Party Mediation 30–50 minutes PURPOSE: To explore third party mediation as an alternative course of action in conflict resolution. the outcome is entirely in the hands of the people who are in dispute.

Because mediation encourages equal input on the part of the disputants. Time permitting. making sure none of the three in each group see each other’s slips of paper. Distribute Scenarios for Mediation Role Plays. participants can change roles. TRAINER’S NOTES: Options: The groups can be given either one or both scenarios. • Were the rules easy or difficult? • Were there any surprises? • In what ways can mediation help in workplace conflict? DEBRIEF: The strength of mediation is its ability to promote a new way of communicating that shows respect for individuality and encourages understanding and participation in the final resolution of a conflict. Allow about 10 minutes. Reconvene and ask the group to discuss how they feel about the concept of mediation and the roles they played. Explain that the goal is to come to an agreement to resolve the conflict by having the mediator conduct the session using the stages outlined in the model handout. Mediators enable disputing parties to interact with one another in a nonthreatening environment. taking turns being the mediator. or the two different scenarios can be divided between the groups. 74 . they understand that the agreements are mutual and therefore easier to keep than if they had simply been decreed by someone else.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution 7. 8.

To make the transition to an agreement. 75 . Then lead the disputants into talking about their true feelings and discussing the actual issues of the dispute. Arrange a follow-up meeting to check on progress and acknowledge successes.Third-Party Mediation Handout #1 Model Depicting “Stages of Mediation” Agreement/ Conclusion Opening Exchange/ Negotiaton Information Sharing **************************************************** ***** OPENING—Make the appropriate introductions. INFORMATION SHARING—Have each person speak openly to you. Guide them to begin by talking about some common goal or shared positive experience. and ask for the cooperation of all parties. reminding the disputants of the good-faith aspects of the agreement. have the disputants brainstorm all possible options for an agreement. Summarize what has been said to make sure that you understand each person’s position. explaining the situation from his or her perspective. EXCHANGE & NEGOTIATION—Instruct each person to speak directly to the other party or parties. CLOSING—Summarize what has happened and together write an agreement. explain the mediation process.

but this month you believe that Al omitted some vital data and you had to cover for him. However. **************************************************** ***** SAM’S COPY You have always been responsible for taking Al’s notes and outline and putting his monthly work stoppage report together in a final presentation form with graphics. He claims that the changes you made were inappropriate and also that you gave yourself more credit than you deserved. etc. and you call them both into your office to discuss the situation. and the department is suffering. in this month’s report. slides. and the department’s work effectively comes to a standstill. As manager. slides. he denied it and is no longer speaking to you. Scenario A **************************************************** ***** MEDIATOR’S COPY With no advance warning. You spoke to Sam about this. Neither of you is speaking to the other. In addition.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution Handout #2 SCENARIOS FOR MEDIATION ROLE PLAYS Prepare for the role play by copying the handout and cutting it into strips along the lines provided. You and Al have always worked well together. Sam took more credit for the report than was warranted. This silence continues all day. Sam has misrepresented your conclusions and actually changed the content. etc. You and Sam have always worked well together. as you see it. **************************************************** ***** AL’S COPY You have always been responsible for summarizing and completing the monthly investigation reports covering workflow stoppages. Sam has been responsible for taking your outline and notes and putting the report into a final presentation form with graphics. Al and Sam come to work one morning and refuse to speak to each other. **************************************************** ***** 76 . you feel that you must get this matter resolved.

strongly disagree on what approach to use. Neither party is willing to give in.Third-Party Mediation Handout #2 Scenario B **************************************************** ***** MEDIATOR’S COPY You are the program director of a nonprofit agency that is in dire need of funds. They each take distinctly different sides on how the fundraising campaign project should proceed. **************************************************** ***** 77 . You feel your organization can accomplish its goals with dignity and style. letters. Ann and Agatha (who must work together). You believe that aggressive pushing for contributions in spite of it being a minor annoyance will still persuade the public to donate generously. You call them into your office to deal with this situation so that your agency can proceed with the campaign. emphasizing how important it is to get the project moving. **************************************************** ***** AGATHA’S COPY You personally believe that the traditional ways of fundraising for your nonprofit agency have been effective in the past and should continue rather than be changed. You strongly believe that funds should be raised through new and fresh programs and that you should be writing grants. You feel strongly enough to argue the point vigorously. etc. You insist on continuing as you have in the past by repeatedly requesting money through ads. phone calls. even though you have informally talked to them. No one seems to be able to break the deadlock. Your fund-raising campaign cannot proceed because two of your decision makers. You feel that people are comfortable with the old way and really want to help out. You do not feel that you should go after money by begging and using a “tin cup” approach with annoying gimmicks. You are unsure what their differences actually are. **************************************************** ***** ANN’S COPY You work for a nonprofit agency and it is fundraising time. You firmly insist that this is the right time to make a change.

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you didn’t say how you wanted it done. so when customers ask why. EQUIPMENT: Flipchart MATERIALS: None PROCEDURE: 1. and to be sure that each understands what the mutual expectations are. Give examples such as: • “Although we agreed I would get it done. it is not clear. 2. or if an agreement exists. Tell participants that in order to reach a clear agreement. Ask participants to think about phrases they have heard when a particular agreement is not clear and discuss what happens when expectations aren’t fully met.Formulating Clear Agreements 30–40 minutes PURPOSE: To provide participants with an opportunity to understand the importance of formulating clear agreements as the final step in resolving conflict. and gain practice developing them through role play. how do I know what to say?” • “We never discussed your timeline for completing this project. 4. Each begins with “W’” and can become the basis for formulating a clear agreement.” • “I wasn’t told why we weren’t accepting returns without a receipt. It is important that both parties participate equally in the discussion. and that the content of the agreement represents the best resolution attainable by the parties themselves. Explain that these are the kinds of statements often heard when no agreement has been proposed. The participants will also observe what goes into making practical agreements.” 3. There may be unspoken presumptions that have not been mentioned by one or both parties. so I didn’t think it was urgent. Now that I’m finished. there are five key questions to be considered. Begin by sharing the following: The last step in resolving conflict is for the disputants to agree on what actions are to be taken. you tell me how I should have done it. Write on a flipchart the following “W’s”: • What? • Who? • When? • What If? • What’s Next? 79 .

A clear agreement will state in writing what has been agreed to. Then lead a discussion. 7. asking the following questions: • How easy or difficult was it to formulate your agreement? • Did any additional conflict occur between you and your partner? • How can formulating clear agreements help resolve conflict? DEBRIEF: Closure is of paramount importance in a conflict-resolution situation.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution 5.” and instruct them to pair up for role play. tell them to write down a short description of each of the five “W’s” they used. 8. Show the prepared flipchart (see Trainer’s Notes). He thought it was a good deal. 9. Paul was getting anxious because he wanted to use it this season. People often think they have settled a conflict when they agree orally. 6. The discussion escalated. The discussion escalated into a heated argument and was becoming a major conflict. Instruct participants to discuss and then role-play the Paul-and-Steve scenario. 80 . using the five “W’s” to set up the agreement. Steve thought it was a bad idea to buy a boat at a tag sale. Steve thought it was a bad idea to buy a boat at a tag sale. Reconvene and ask for examples of written agreements. but they may not have closed the loop. Paul was getting anxious. A month went by but no purchase had been made. However. Share the following scenario: Paul and Steve agreed to purchase a fishing boat together. Allow 10 minutes. Tell participants that they will have an opportunity to practice making a clear agreement using the five “W’s. TRAINER’S NOTES: Prepare a flipchart in advance with the following points: • • • • • • Paul and Steve agreed to purchase a fishing boat together. so he ran over to Steve’s house to tell him about it. Paul and his wife went to a tag sale and saw a fishing boat for $300. Paul realized they were getting no place and remembered a training program at work in which “agreement writing” was discussed. One Saturday. Paul saw a fishing boat for $300 at a tag sale. After they have roleplayed the scenario. A month went by and they had not purchased it. He explained it to Steve and they agreed to look at the 5 “W’s” and jointly write an agreement to resolve the dispute.

Hand out the mini case and have everyone read it. 5.Curbside Conflict Resolution 30 minutes PURPOSE: To help participants learn how to quickly handle a minor conflict in which a resolution is required.” EQUIPMENT: Prepared flipchart MATERIALS: Handout: Carpool Mini Case PROCEDURE: 1. Based on the information supplied in the case description. Reconvene and have each pair report out the results of their discussion. Where lacking. The following questions might be helpful: • • • • How easy or difficult was this case? Explain the reasons for your answer. 2. 81 . Pair up the participants and explain that the steps on the flipchart will be used as a guide in the conflict resolution mini case. without getting into all the details. The members of each pair will select the roles of Stan or Mason and open a discussion. if any? Did you improvise any other steps of your own? If so. Show the participants the prepared flipchart (see Trainer’s Notes). This calls for a prompt solution. 3. 4. What surprises did you find. Explain to the group that this activity will give them the chance to look at some comparatively easy steps that can lead to a quick resolution of a conflict. each disputant should use the five steps on the flipchart to carry out the dialogue. what were they? Did you know exactly what you wanted from the other person and what you were willing to do to get it? • List the occasions when this type of conflict resolution might be useful. they can create their own additional reasonable facts and examples. The pair should work things out together and try to resolve the conflict successfully. one they can work out “on the run. Briefly review the four steps to be sure everyone understands them.

82 . The five-step guide provided here should be helpful. 5. 3. particularly if disputants are solution-oriented and not problem-oriented. Decide what you want from the other person. Consider what you are willing to give. 2. TRAINER’S NOTES: Write the following on a flipchart: Five Step Guide that Can Lead to Quick Resolution of a Conflict 1.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution DEBRIEF: It’s important to remember that some conflicts can be resolved quickly and easily. Summarize the discussion and check for understanding and agreement. 4. Back up all the assertions with examples. Gather all the necessary facts.

I’m a single parent and every morning I have to get the kids washed. They have an understanding that Stan will pick up Mason and drive the 45 minutes it takes to get to work. Mason will pay Stan for his share of the gas costs. he says. I make up the time during coffee breaks. Besides. and off to school. “Stan. but I can’t always make it exactly on time. my boss isn’t bothered when I’m occasionally late because.” 83 . when necessary. This can’t go on. dressed. “I’m sorry.” Stan replies. as Mason gets into the car. As you know. this is the third time this month you’ve been late. fed.Curbside Conflict Resolution Handout Carpool Mini Case Stan and Mason work for the same company and have been carpooling for three months. and I’m catching a lot of flack for not being on time. One morning.

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.......................................133 V....101 In the Heat of the Moment..................................................................................115 Four Conflict Resolution Styles: When to Use Each .........................................................................................................................129 The Ideal Peacemaker: Can You Imagine That? ....................................................... Know Yourself The Role of Values in Conflict Resolution ..157 Turning Negatives into Positives ...................................... I...................Table of Contents—Part 2 Independent Study Introduction to: The Back of the Book ............................ Self-Assessment in Dealing with Differences .........................117 Mediation: Test Your Knowledge ........................................................... Understanding Conflict Resolving a Conflict through Planning .......121 IV....149 Supportive Listening: What’s Your Score? ............................159 Eight Different Points of View......... Opinion ...... Analyzing a Conflict: Is It Worth Getting Into?....................................................................................... Exploring Sources of Conflict......... 85 89 91 95 97 II..........................153 Fact vs......139 A Questionable Exercise........................143 Direct Communication: Its Use in Conflict Resolution...................................................127 First Thoughts about Others: “Perception IQ” Quiz ........................137 Your Turn: A Nonjudgmental Exercise............................................................................................................................................................................... Values and Perceptions Evaluating Your Conflict Resolution Skills ..................................155 Escalate vs..103 Which Conflict Resolution Style Is Yours?............................................................................................................................................................................................................................ ..113 Why People Avoid Dealing with Conflict Resolution .................................................................................................................................................... Exploring Conflict Early Takes on Conflict...................................................................................151 Skills That Make a Difference ....................................161 85 .................................... Resolving Conflict Situations Uncovering the Hidden Agenda....................... Self-Development .. ........ Acknowledge: The Choice Is Yours....105 How to Deal with Hot Buttons ...................................................................109 III.............

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you will have a chance to work with assessment instruments that focus on conflict-resolution styles and skills and readiness analysis. there is still room for individuals to contribute to their own learning by exploring their personal insights and experiences. As you approach the forthcoming exercises. interpersonal skills. self-instruction provides a broad range of tools and methods to be used to good advantage. They include ways to explore conflict from your personal point of view and understand it in terms of values and perceptions. . and perhaps a worksheet with instructions. and develop a sense of gratification. From the learner’s point of view. These exercises address a broad range of subjects on the topic of conflict resolution. improve retention. There are specific skills that can be learned and put into practice to prevent conflict from escalating. It is important to recognize that positive learning takes place when an individual is alone or completing a self-study worksheet. 87 . Each exercise includes a description of the purpose of the exercise. You will also have an opportunity to assess where you stand on many other conflict issues. As an independent learner. and use reflective exercises. an introduction of the topic. While teachers and trainers are basic to many learning processes. conflict resolution. In some cases where there are questions asked. .Introduction to: The Back of the Book . Self-Development This section of the book offers an individualized approach to learning about and dealing with conflict. take a moment to think about the value of independent study and the importance of people taking responsibility for their own learning. you will find an explanation of the answers so that you can check them and recognize where you have succeeded and where you need more work. communication. and of course. Self-development will enhance management-development courses such as leadership. The results can enrich personal growth. The exercise is concluded with a summary. diversity training.

The Back of the Book’s self-development exercises are grouped into the same five categories as those in the front of the book. As a basis for new workshops and group activities. III. V. this section can be used in three ways: As a stand-alone course with exercises that encourage participants to take the initiative for their own learning. These exercises lend themselves to a process whereby you can develop a long-term plan to deal with conflict. They will help you explore language (both verbal and non-verbal) and also offer specific communication hints in building relationships that will help you to move forward successfully in a conflict situation. Exploring Conflict Know Yourself Understanding Conflict Values and Perceptions Resolving Conflict Situations 88 . II. They are as follows: I. As assigned homework or classwork to reinforce group activities on conflict resolution. IV.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution As explained in the beginning of the book.

THE BACK OF THE BOOK: SELF-DEVELOPMENT I EXPLORING CONFLICT .

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My definition of conflict is _____________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 2. Comment on that situation. Think of an early conflict in your life. Let’s start by understanding what it means to you. Now bring yourself to the present and think about some current conflict. Comment on the following: Who was involved? ___________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ What were the reasons behind the conflict? _______________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ What methods were used to resolve it? __________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 3.Early Takes on Conflict PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To examine your own thoughts and feelings about conflict and conflict resolution. Who was involved? ___________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ What were the reasons behind the conflict ? ______________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 91 . WORKSHEET 1. We will define it and then explore factors that in the past may have shaped your definition. preferably in the workplace. INTRODUCTION: The word “conflict” is used by many people and can mean different things to each person. and establish a baseline for your perspective.

struggle. Webster’s New World Dictionary gives as synonyms of conflict words like fight.” 2. the better you will be able to handle difficult situations in the future. it is important to know how you feel about the subject of conflict. You can learn to deal with it in a positive way. 92 . and defines it as a “sharp disagreement or opposition of interests. and contention.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution What methods were used to resolve it? __________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ Were these methods different than the earlier methods? If so. The goal is to learn to use constructive communication to resolve conflicts. check out the following two definitions: 1. She says. the more you know about yourself and your experiences with conflict. Consequently. SUMMARY To review your definition of conflict. especially in today’s world where many people believe that conflict is part of everyday life. ideas. etc. the more likely you are to develop effective resolution skills.” Attitudes about conflict are changing today. A different definition is found in a statement from psychologist Jean Baker Miller’s book. Toward a New Psychology of Women. “Conflict is the source of all growth and an absolute necessity if one is to be alive. The more you understand how it impacts you and your relationships. and increasingly believe that it allows both parties to learn from each other and benefit in ways that have never been thought of before. how? _________ _____________________________________________________________________ There are no right or wrong answers to the questions raised on the worksheet. People view it as a natural part of life. However.

1. List all of the external factors you can think of that can cause conflict. _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 3. such as your perceptions of a situation or the people involved. Addressing them properly can lead to quicker resolution. difficult time constraints. or a difference in values. List the behaviors of others that you find annoying enough to bring about conflict. or an overbearing boss. INTRODUCTION: The sources of conflict play an integral role in the conflict resolution process. It could be based on internal factors ingrained in your behavior. _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 2. such as inadequate supplies. WORKSHEET Think about the reasons why a particular conflict might develop at work. Perhaps it would be prompted by external factors over which you have no control. and in some cases even solve the problem. _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 93 . List all of the internal factors that can contribute to conflict.Exploring Sources of Conflict PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To uncover the sources of conflict and better understand their effect on conflict situations.

List the behaviors of others that you find annoying enough to bring about a conflict. List all of the external factors you can think of that cause conflict. divergent goals.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution 4. clash of styles. unclear lines of authority. declines in business. judgmental comments. 94 . Jot down your ideas of how knowledge of the sources of conflict help in either avoiding or resolving a difficult situation. 2. Miscommunication. and include some points that you may not have thought of. Keep them handy for future reference! 1. constant bragging. shouting. Lack of available personnel. over-limiting work rules. boorish behavior. dissimilar values. failure to assume responsibilities. poorly functioning equipment. biases. inflexibility. hostile work environments. ingrained and early personal experiences. poorly crafted institutional policies. personal uncertainties. repeated excuses. unrealistic expectations. overemotionalism. inadequate scheduling. poor work habits. perceptions. costs out of control. inefficient performance. inattentiveness. constant interruption. offensive personal hygiene. disrespect. 3. Incorrect assumptions. _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ SUGGESTED SOURCES OF CONFLICT Your page might look much like the one below. cursing. prejudices against the unfamiliar. lack of capital for investment. List all of the internal factors that contribute to conflict. Now think about a real life conflict experience. time constraints.

After considerable wrangling.Exploring Sources of Conflict 4. the more likely you will help the disputants reach a resolution. Now think about a real life conflict experience. Understanding the sources of conflict will likely help in resolving a specific conflict situation. the parties discover that one man assumed a certain figure was “before taxes” and the other “after taxes.” The source of the conflict was a clear case of miscommunication. when this matter was addressed. Jot down your ideas of how knowing the sources of conflict with help in either avoiding or resolving a difficult situation. The more you know about the background of a specific situation. For example. the two parties were able to reconcile their differences. 95 . SUMMARY This exercise has explored both external and internal factors that cause or contribute to conflict. two businessmen are in conflict over an agreement involving a significant amount of money.

Self-Assessment in Dealing With Differences
PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To assess one’s own attitudes in dealing with differences INTRODUCTION: Every individual has a general worldview when it comes to other people, and this affects the way they handle conflict. For each of the pairs of statements below, check either A or B as most representative of your experience.
1. A. ____ B. ____ 2. A. ____ I have always worked with people like me. My work has required me to deal with diverse groups of people. I only know English, and believe it is up to limited-English speakers to learn this language. B. ____ I’m interested in other languages and communicate easily with limited-English speakers. A. ____ I feel uncomfortable around people with disabilities. B. ____ I reach out to people with disabilities because I am interested in others. A. ____ I go with my first impressions of people. B. ____ I realize that first impressions are not enough to make a judgment. ____ A. If someone’s name is very unfamiliar to me, I suggest that I call that person by a nickname. B. ____ When someone’s name is unfamiliar, I try to pronounce it correctly. ____ A. I see nothing wrong with using words like “girl,” “boy,” or “honey” when referring to my co-workers. B. ____ I’m aware that “girl,” “boy,” and “honey” might be offensive to some people. A. ____ I believe that people from backgrounds different from my own must learn “our ways” quickly. B. ____ I realize that different perspectives can contribute greatly to good decision-making. A. ____ I believe that differences make it harder for people to work together. B. ____ I’m willing to consider differences as positive contributions. A. ____ I do not enjoy trying food or drinks that are unfamiliar. B. ____ I am open to new food experiences. A. ____ I am not comfortable being the “only” in a group. B. ____ I am aware that it is difficult to be the “only” in a group, yet I find it challenging.

3.

4. 5.

6.

7.

8. 9. 10.

COUNT THE NUMBER OF As AND Bs: Number of
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A replies _____ B replies _____

50 Activities for Conflict Resolution

SUMMARY
You have just identified your general worldview. Obviously, this view affects how you will deal with conflicts involving people who are different than you. If most of your answers were A, you probably have an outlook that is ethnocentric and believe that your culture is not only best for you, but also best for most other people. This makes resolving disputes more difficult. Our goal is not to change your values, but to give you some new insights and information about communication that may help in resolving disagreements with people who are different. If most of your answers were B, your outlook is likely to be one that is flexible and accepting of differences. We hope you will gain some additional understanding and new skills from this book that will be helpful in dealing with various complexities present in most disputes. We hope that this self-inventory has given you some insight into your personal preferences and personal comfort zone in dealing with people with different cultures, backgrounds, attitudes, etc. This self-knowledge will probably influence how you will behave or respond in a conflict situation. It should also help you to understand the values and comfort levels of others who may be involved with you in a conflict.

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How do you think that person feels? ____________________________________ 7. What is the relationship between the people involved ? ___________________ 4. Answer the questions below. What do you think the other person thinks about that? ___________________ 9. people deal with it on the spot without giving much thought to the situation or the unintended. _______________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 2. What are your feelings about this situation? _____________________________ 5. change the questions to the past tense. INTRODUCTION: Often when a conflict arises. What do you think the real issues are? __________________________________ 8. If so. Describe in a few words what you said or did and what the other person said or did. Consider the consequences—both positive and negative.) 1.Analyzing a Conflict: Is It Worth Getting Into? PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To learn to analyze a conflict situation and decide what the real issues are and whether or not the conflict is worth working on. unexpected consequences of the outcome. ______________________________________________________________ 10. Who is involved? _____________________________________________________ 3. WORKSHEET Here is a way to help you examine a conflict by first thinking about how you feel about it and then considering whether it is worth working on at all. What do you see as the outcome? ________________________________________________________ 99 . What do you think the other person really wants? ________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 6. Briefly describe the conflict. (You also may want to explore a past conflict for this analysis. considering a conflict that you may be facing or one that you are already engaged in. State what it’s about.

50 Activities for Conflict Resolution The last question to address is: “Are the potential consequences in either direction worth addressing?” SUMMARY Professionals who work in the field of conflict resolution generally believe that addressing a conflict in a positive and planned way will bring positive results. Questions like these can help you decide how you want to proceed and whether the outcome is important enough for you to spend the time and effort to resolve the situation. Good luck! 100 . This exercise gives you a chance to analyze a conflict and look at it from your own as well as the other person’s perspective.

THE BACK OF THE BOOK: SELF-DEVELOPMENT II KNOW YOURSELF .

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.............. WORKSHEET Here is a way to examine values....... ....... The group is most important................... .. Saving face supersedes all....... Continuum ........ Column B Formal behavior and dress are most important.... Indirect communication is more effective.......... The individual can stand out from the group................. Communication should be direct.. connect the X’s to give you an idea of your profile.. .... They recognize that others may bring different sets of values and beliefs to the process....... People are measured by their good qualities...... . 103 ........... ..... People from non-Western cultures may easily fall closest to those in Column B. INTRODUCTION: Those people who are most effective in resolving conflict across diversity lines know and understand their own beliefs and values... Emotions can be shown. Admission of error is important.. Column A Informality is the way to go.. Authority is worthy of trust.... Promptness is not a major concern.............. There are exceptions to every rule.. From top to bottom........ .. Authority needs to be questioned... ............ Harmony brings better results.... I am youth-oriented........... Rules are meant to be obeyed..The Role of Values in Conflict Resolution PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To explore how individual differences in values underlie the effect that culture has on creating and attempting to resolve conflict............... Competition leads to success.... Emotions should be controlled..... ............... .............. What does your profile look like? Those people from a traditionally Western perspective are likely to relate to the statements in Column A. . People are measured by their accomplishments........ Time-sense is extremely important. Place an X on the continuum closest to your personal beliefs..... Age should be appreciated.

104 .50 Activities for Conflict Resolution SUMMARY This simple exercise points out one reason why people from individualistic competitive cultures (such as that of the U.S.) may have difficulty appreciating other people for whom group well-being and harmony are key values.

List how these emotions impact your ability to resolve conflict. 1. 105 . Compare the emotions you listed with our list. _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ Now turn the page for a list of emotions that often surface in conflict and tips to reduce negative emotions. List ways that you can bring your “emotional temperature” down. List the emotions you feel when you are involved in conflict. _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 3. _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 2. emotions take over and make it difficult for the parties to remain focused. WORKSHEET Think back to the conflict situations you have taken part in. Try to imagine what your feelings were at those times and list the emotions that surfaced when you were engaged in conflict.In the Heat of the Moment PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To examine how emotions might interfere with the process of conflict resolution. Conflict-resolution skills may be put to use to reduce the tension. INTRODUCTION: Often in a conflict situation.

Keep in mind that you can find an entire range of conflict-resolution skills in the activities and exercises included in this book that will help make the process successful. express concerns in a calm manner Acknowledge the other person’s feelings Suggest a time-out Show empathy Listen and paraphrase Review and take pride in own assets Analyze reasons.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution Emotions Anger Hurt Pain Resentment Fear Jealousy Hatred Tips for Reducing Negative Emotions Lower your voice. speak softly. minimize effect SUMMARY It is important that you understand one thing: The display of negative emotions has no place in conflict resolution. It takes fair. conflicts have often remained unresolved because of them. open-minded. 106 . They are counterproductive. honest. and dedicated participants to overcome serious negative emotions on either side.

This exercise is an opportunity to determine which style you are most comfortable with. INTRODUCTION: There are four conflict-resolution styles: Avoidance. and Cooperation. but people are generally more comfortable using one style over another. Each of these four styles may work in different situations. They have chosen a “win-win” approach. and easier to step back from a conflict situation. Competition—where one disputant tries to overpower another disputant by forcing his or her own solution on the other person.Which Conflict-Resolution Style Is Yours? PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To become familiar with the four basic conflictresolution styles and identify your predominant style. WORKSHEET The four conflict resolution styles to be used in the worksheet are identified as follows: Avoidance—where people withdraw to avoid conflict. These people are choosing a “lose-win” approach. These disputants are not satisfied until an acceptable solution is found for both parties. Adaptation. They believe it is hopeless to try to resolve conflict. and harmony is the most important thing. Adaptation—where people feel that the relationships are more important than their own goals. 107 . This style is considered a “win-lose” approach. They want to be liked and accepted. The following worksheet contains 23 statements and a score sheet to help you identify your predominant conflict-resolution style. The avoidance style leads to a “lose-lose” approach. They consider conflicts as problems to be solved. Competition. Cooperation—where disputants highly value their own goals and relationships. and want both parties to achieve their goals.

but so is the relationship. 2 Rarely 3 Sometimes 4 Often 5 Very often 108 . I try to find things we both agree on. For me. it is important that both parties’ needs are met. 11. 9. 2. I try to stay away from situations that might be confrontational. 17. 13. I look for ways to make that happen. 5. 7. I try to be with people I get along with and avoid relationships I think may result in conflict. I use whatever tactics are necessary to win. 23. I am direct about what I want. I often find I am trying to smooth things over for the sake of the relationship. 1 Almost never 1. I don’t want to be around others who might engage in conflict. I am not satisfied until an acceptable solution is found.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution WORKSHEET Read each statement and indicate on the scale how typical each statement is of your feelings about conflict. Not only do I not like to engage in conflict. I am unwilling to change what I want. 20. 18. To me. 21. and I expect to get it. 19. 8. I try to get along with the person I am in conflict with. My goal is to find a solution where both parties win. 4. I will do whatever I can to ignore issues that might lead to conflict. 15. I’m willing to go along if it makes you happy. Winning is. I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. I am willing to give up if it makes the other person happy. I plan to win. Acceptance by others is not important to me. I want to be liked and accepted by others. 3. My goals are important to me. My goals are more important to me than the relationship. 6. 22. For me. 16. I believe it is hopeless to try to resolve conflict. 12. 10. conflict situations are either win-win or win-lose. conflict is a “lose-lose” approach. 14.

so use the above questions and chart to think about your predominant style and those occasions when another style might be more appropriate. Of course. Avoidance 3 _______ 6 _______ 9 _______ 12 _______ 14 _______ 21 _______ Totals _______ _______ _______ _______ Competition 2 _______ 5 _______ 7 _______ 11 _______ 17 _______ 22 _______ Adaptation 8 _______ 16 _______ 18 _______ 19 _______ 23 _______ _______ Cooperation 1 _______ 4 _______ 10 _______ 13 _______ 15 _______ 20 _______ SUMMARY The score sheet above can help you determine which style might be your strongest. 109 . Then total the numbers in each column.Which Conflict Resolution Style Is Yours? SCORE SHEET List below the ranking that you selected for each statement. The column with the highest score indicates your predominant style. most people are comfortable with more than one style.

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” When ours are pushed. statements. ________________________________ 2. _________________________________ Other people have hot buttons. namecalling. ________________________________ 2. ________________________________ 3. ________________________________ 3. ________________________________ 2. or behavior that are hot buttons for you: 1. ________________________________ 3. _________________________________ On the next page you will find some skills to help you deal with “hot button” situations. stereotypes. _________________________________ 4. _________________________________ 4. How might you deal with those hot buttons you push in a conflict situation? What skills would be helpful? 1.) List below any words. INTRODUCTION: We use the term “hot button” to describe what happens when person A does or says something specific that causes an extreme reaction from person B.” thereby adding fuel to the fire and creating a greater misunderstanding. WORKSHEET Most of us have at least one “hot button. _________________________________ 4. 111 . _________________________________ What strategies have you used to deal with your hot buttons? 1.How to Deal with Hot Buttons PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To understand the meaning and implications of the term “hot button” and how this information fits in with the process of conflict resolution. particularly when we are in the middle of a conflict. Person A may not realize that he or she has “pushed the other person’s hot button. too. (Examples of hot buttons: ethnic slurs. it is almost impossible to respond in a constructive way.

Mentally detach yourself. 2. Neutralize the situation by detachment. check your approach and develop skills to deal with them. give careful thought to your next move in order to avoid pushing more or adding to the hurt. When a hot button issue comes up. 112 . Step back from the situation and take a few deep breaths. as in “We both would like to…” SUMMARY Because hot buttons are words or actions that can trigger negative responses. Ask questions that will help you get a deeper understanding of the situation. When you realize that a hot button has been pushed. it is vital that they be taken into consideration during a conflict situation. the easier it is to avoid their use and not take things personally. all parties must be aware of the impact they make. Allow things to cool down. Give yourself and the other person some space. Collect more data. and move on. 4. Since they often exacerbate a conflict. Focus on the goals you both have in common. detach yourself from it. Recognize others’ feelings. The more sensitive you are to hot buttons (your own and others’). allow the situation to cool off. it is important to recognize it for what it is. you should always use positive language when resolving conflicts. Use “we” language. Look for commonalties and use positive language. 3.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution SKILLS FOR DEALING WITH HOT BUTTONS To help you deal with hot buttons. In general. such as those listed below: 1.

THE BACK OF THE BOOK: SELF-DEVELOPMENT III UNDERSTANDING CONFLICT .

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peer personnel. 115 . The following basic questions will guide you through the planning process. INTRODUCTION: Because of the serious nature of most conflicts and the important consequences to the parties involved. WORKSHEET Think about a conflict that you will be dealing with soon. you should consider certain other preparation steps. you might pause to draw upon the knowledge gained from your other experiences. careful forethought should be given to each part of the planning process before actual conflict resolution begins. How much do I know about the parties and the issues? 2. 1. human resources department. How serious is this conflict? Is it important enough to get involved? 3. What are the time constraints for the initial meeting? What are the time constraints for reaching a solution? 6. publications. What resources can I use? (Interviews. you can help strengthen your role by reviewing appropriate activities and exercises in this book. mentors. What do I hope to gain? 8. If you have been involved in other situations in the past. Where should the meeting be held. or one that you would like to help resolve. and who should be there? 5. What are the consequences if this conflict is not resolved for me personally? For the group I work with? 4. etc.Resolving a Conflict through Planning PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To demonstrate the planning that ought to be part of every conflict resolution process.) 7. If this is your first conflict-resolution situation. What am I willing to do to close the conflict? SUMMARY In preparing for a conflict resolution meeting.

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1.Why People Avoid Dealing with Conflict Resolution PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To explore reasons why some people are often unwilling to deal with the process of conflict resolution. where no one has to stand out as the “tough guy. _____ I don’t care. Study the printed material on conflict resolution. 2. _____ Others will not want me to interfere. 3. In the conflict-resolution process. 7. WORKSHEET Read over the following sentences and check those that describe your feelings about the conflict-resolution process. _____ Nobody in my past career history has shown me the way. it may take much more time if the situation is allowed to continue without being addressed. communication skills can be employed that allow you to be an equal participant rather than a person who interferes. Find a role model! 4. 2.” 3. _____ I don’t have time. INTRODUCTION: Do you find yourself quick to avoid dealing with conflict? This exercise will examine typical reasons why some people avoid it and give you some insight into why it might be so difficult. 6. 4. 5. 117 . and take courses on it wherever possible. _____ I don’t want to end up being the tough guy. Conflict-resolution skills can help achieve a win-win solution that recognizes the needs and interests of all parties. _____ I think others should know what to do. I have no role model. POINTS TO CONSIDER 1. Though conflict resolution takes time. _____ People don’t ask for my help. learn from others.

7. the Points to Consider should get you thinking about the avoidance issue. 6. Because conflict is pervasive in today’s workplace. SUMMARY As in any undertaking. An “I don’t care” attitude will not get you very far. and appreciate help from those who have conflict-resolution skills. As you become successful at dealing with conflict. it is especially important that people work to overcome their discomfort and be willing to invest their time to learn to deal with conflict in a positive way. you will likely find that others will see value in how you handle situations and come to respect you for that. the more you know about a subject. Clearly there are many more reasons why people avoid trying to resolve conflict.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution 5. Novices in resolving conflict often do not know how to handle it. you may have some others of your own. 118 . You will care when you are comfortable with the situation and know how to reach a positive resolution. However. the more comfortable you will be with it and the easier it will become.

119 . Adaptation. This style is considered a “win-lose” approach. These disputants are not satisfied until an acceptable solution is found for both parties. They have chosen a “win-win” approach. They consider conflicts as problems to be solved. Adaptation—where people feel that relationships are more important than their own goals. These people are choosing a “lose-win” approach. They want to be liked and accepted. and usually step away from a conflict situation. and want both parties to achieve their goals. The chart the following page contains statements describing when certain styles are particularly useful. They believe it is hopeless to try to resolve conflict. When you finish. WORKSHEET The four conflict resolution styles are identified as: Avoidance—where people withdraw to avoid conflict. INTRODUCTION: There are four conflict-resolution styles: Avoidance. Each of these four styles works best in different circumstances. you’ll find the correct answers on the following page. Read each statement and identify which style you believe would be most effective for that situation by placing a check mark in the appropriate column. and to learn to recognize when one style will be more useful than others. Cooperation—where disputants highly value their own goals and relationships with others. Check to see how you did. This style leads to a “lose-lose” situation. This exercise is an opportunity to explore situations when one style might be more effective than others.Four Conflict Resolution Styles: When to Use Each PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To become more familiar with the four basic conflict-resolution styles. and Cooperation. Competition. Competition—where one disputant tries to overpower another disputant by forcing his or her own solution on the other person. harmony is the important goal.

Avoidance Useful when quick action is needed Useful when you need to gain commitment Useful to postpone tension Useful to maintain balance and harmony Useful to delay action while gaining more information Useful in situations where someone tries to take advantage of noncompetitive behavior Useful to allow for mutual exploration of creative approaches Useful when others might solve the conflict more effectively Useful when it is not important for you to win Useful when emotions are strong Useful when relationships are important to both Useful when the issue is worth the consequences Competition Adaptation Cooperation 120 .50 Activities for Conflict Resolution Place your checkmark in the appropriate column.

Four Conflict Resolution Styles: When to Use Each 121 .

However. there may be times when alternative 122 . Avoidance Useful when quick action is needed Useful when you need to gain commitment Useful to postpone tension Useful to maintain balance and harmony Useful to delay action while gaining more information Useful in situations where someone tries to take advantage of noncompetitive behavior Useful to allow for mutual exploration of creative approaches Useful when others might solve the conflict more effectively Useful when it is not important for you to win Useful when emotions are strong Useful when relationships are important to both Useful when the issue is worth the consequences Competition Adaptation Cooperation SUMMARY The information in the chart above suggests that there are times when one particular style works best.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution Check your answers.

Four Conflict Resolution Styles: When to Use Each choices are more appropriate. 123 .

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etc. Mediation.Mediation: Test Your Knowledge PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To find out what you know or believe to be true about mediation. INTRODUCTION: Most people have only vague notions about mediation.” you need to learn more. often called “Alternate Dispute Resolution. think about what mediation means to you and respond to each statement with a “T” for true or an “F” for false. A mediator is often very helpful in the conflict-resolution process.) Not only is mediation useful in resolving disputes in fields such as construction. congratulations! If you marked ten or fewer as “true. in courses. you will find more information about the subject in books or other publications. Because mediation is used in so many varying situations. business. there are basic ground rules common to all.” should be considered by anyone involved in conflict resolution. labor relations. If you have 11 or more “true” statements. and on the Internet. 125 . real estate. decisions are handed down by an outsider. (For example. WORKSHEET GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF MEDIATION As you read the following sentences. family law. Then check your answers with those provided on the next page.. it has come to mean different things to different people. and to clarify possible misconceptions. some people believe that in mediation.

_____ In a mediation. 3. 12. without regard to the mediator’s values. _____ Mediators are in control and often make suggestions or give advice. _____ Mediation often calls for requiring people to change their own values. 2. 8. _____ Because the mediators themselves are committed to confidentiality. _____ Mediation assumes that people can resolve conflicts and are capable of discovering their own resources for doing so. _____ Feelings and interpretations. 6.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution “PRINCIPLES OF MEDIATION” QUIZ 1. 126 . rather than vague attitude shifts. _____ Mediated agreements focus on measurable behavior. beliefs. 4. are useful data in a mediation. as well as facts. agreements are coerced and attention is paid to recognizing and appreciating power. 9. the disputants are often more open to the viewpoints of others and willing to take risks. 10. 13. but they can be discussed when clarifying issues for both parties. _____ Balance between the parties in the final agreement is not important. 7. 5. _____ Values. and attitudes are not the focus of mediation. _____ Participants in a mediation are likely to carry out agreements because they are personally involved in making the decision and have a stake in the outcome. _____ Mediators use the data in a flexible structure that they adapt to the context of each particular situation. 11. _____ Mediators control the content of conflict issues and make the decisions. _____ Mediation encourages people to choose options for resolving conflict based on jointly agreed-upon and acceptable standards.

Mediation: Test Your Knowledge

ANSWERS TO “PRINCIPLES OF MEDIATION” QUIZ
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. T F F T T T F T Mediation assumes that people can resolve conflicts and are capable of discovering their own resources for doing so. Mediators are in control and often make suggestions or give advice. Mediators control the content of conflict issues and make the decisions. Feelings and interpretations, as well as facts, are useful data in a mediation. Mediators use the data in a flexible structure that they adapt to the context of each particular situation. Values, beliefs, and attitudes are not the focus of mediation, but they can be discussed when clarifying issues for both parties. Mediation often calls for requiring people to change their own values. Mediation encourages people to choose options for resolving conflict based on jointly agreed-upon and acceptable standards, without regard to the mediator’s values. Because the mediators themselves are committed to confidentiality, the disputants are often more open to the viewpoints of others and willing to take risks. Balance between the parties in the final agreement is not important. Mediated agreements focus on measurable behavior, rather than vague attitude shifts. Participants in a mediation are likely to carry out agreements because they are personally involved in making the decision and have a stake in the outcome. In a mediation, agreements are coerced and attention is paid to recognizing and appreciating power.

9.

T

10. 11. 12.

F T T

13.

F

SUMMARY
Mediation is sometimes confused with arbitration. Arbitration, however, is another form of Alternate Dispute Resolution. In mediation, the decisions are made by the participants, and are voluntary. In arbitration, all decisions by the Arbitrator(s), both in the hearings and in the final award, are normally binding. 127

THE BACK OF THE BOOK: SELF-DEVELOPMENT

IV VALUES AND PERCEPTIONS

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without spending too much time on any one question. 10. 16. I am prepared to give and take. I summarize to clarify my understanding of the situation. I set up a plan before going into a conflict. 7. 13. I can deal with different values. I like to listen. I consider the wants and needs of the other party. I am open to exploring options. Work quickly and spontaneously. I am able to turn negatives into positives. as well as those you need to improve. 19. 12. INTRODUCTION: This exercise is for your personal evaluation. 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 131 . I enjoy addressing conflict situations. keeping in mind the desire for a win-win solution. 8. 9. I often bring a sense of humor into play to help a tense situation. I am able to deal with stressful situations. WORKSHEET Rate yourself on each statement by circling the number that represents your ability. with 5 being most applicable to you (a strong agreement) and 1 being the least applicable (a strong disagreement). I know what I want to accomplish. 2. I am able to make others comfortable in a conflictresolution situation. 15. 1. I am sensitive when it comes to the real issues of a conflict. 14. 11. 6. The questions I ask have a purpose. 3. I work toward satisfying the needs of both parties. It should give you some insight into your strongest skills. I appreciate a good brainstorming session. 18. 5. 4. I know myself and use my strengths strategically. I highly value direct communication. I have patience.Evaluating Your Conflict-Resolution Skills PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To help you evaluate your conflict-resolution capabilities. 20. 17.

50 Activities for Conflict Resolution 132 .

Learn as much as you can about the skills you need to acquire. a) Less than 20 You probably find conflict very difficult. Try to develop them and expand them. b) 21–40 c) 41–60 d) 61–80 e) 81–100 You might be able to do better. You should be very successful. the better prepared you are to resolve conflicts. a little more effort will get you there. 133 .Mediation: Test Your Knowledge SCORE SHEET Total the numbers in each category you have circled on the questionnaire to get your final score. SUMMARY As you see. You are about to become a winner. Success in this field demands a wide range of skills. and work on those skills where improvement is needed. You have some natural capabilities. It would therefore be very useful for you to recognize those individual areas of competence where you excel. the higher the score. You are probably “a natural” when it comes to conflict resolution. Review your strengths and weaknesses.

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____ the quiet person is uninterested in what is going on. you assume: ____ the interrupter is rude and thoughtless. 135 . The other person never responds or comments and is mostly silent. INTRODUCTION: Most of us have been conditioned to size up people on the basis of initial impressions. ____ the interrupter isn’t listening—he or she just wants to talk. Assumptions You are in a conflict situation and somehow you never get to finish a sentence. You are constantly being interrupted and inundated with trivial questions or demands for more detail. 3. ____ the interrupter is simply demonstrating commitment and interest. expectations. 2. ____ the quiet person doesn’t speak your language. ____ there’s no way to get to a solution. WORKSHEET Under each topic are four sentences. ____ the interrupter is totally self-centered and not interested in what is going on. Assumptions You are in a conflict situation and find yourself doing all the talking. Language Issues You are trying to resolve a conflict with someone who was born in another country. As a disputant in the conflict. Mark each one “True” or “False”: 1. ____ the quiet person thinks you’re wonderful and will give in to everything you say or request. you decide: ____ your opponent is not very intelligent. assumptions. You assume: ____ the quiet person is shy and withdrawn (insecure). and even begins to giggle at something you consider to be serious. In this situation. and personal values often influence our perceptions. a person who speaks with a heavy accent. The person keeps smiling and nodding his head. affecting how we perceive them in conflict situations.First Thoughts about Others: “Perception IQ” Quiz PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To demonstrate how we often make up our minds about a person at first sight. ____ you are not getting through to him. Language. ____ he’s very happy and thinks the whole thing is silly.

Expectations You are in conflict with a carefully-groomed person dressed in a pin-striped “power suit. ____ the person in the suit is vain and cares more about his appearance than solving the problem. Values You are in conflict with a person who is so unhappy and so dissatisfied in what he claims is the poor quality of a contracted service that he refuses to respond to any suggestion you make about talking things out. Expectations You are in a meeting with a man who is wearing a turban and a long. ____ the person in the turban and robe has some strange and unusual beliefs.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution 4. ____ stop the process. You decide to: ____ quickly stop the discussion so that more productive communication can occur. ____ switch the subject to one that is less volatile. and raises his voice until it almost reaches the shouting stage.” You expect that: ____ the person in the suit is trying to set up a power play. He switches to verbal attacks on you. gets excited. In this situation. 136 . you expect that: ____ the person is from a foreign country and won’t know the language. ____ encourage him to modify his style. because clearly the two of you will never come to agreement. 5. ____ the person in the turban and robe will not fully understand what is going on. ____ the person in the suit is in a position of power in the everyday world. ____ the person will make everyone else feel ill at ease. flowing robe. 6. ____ the person in the turban and robe is so rigid that he won’t be willing to negotiate a solution.

With respect to Values. depending on context. thus allowing the participants to keep their own values intact. you have no doubt guessed that all the statements can be either True or False. 137 . again all answers can be either True or False. withdrawal. With respect to Assumptions. say “Yes. etc. People nod their heads. frequent interruptions. or to cover up embarrassment. However.” and employ gestures.” However. even smiles may not signify approval or pleasure. they don’t necessarily convey the same meanings as mainstream Americans would expect. individual approaches to communication often reflect different values. over-agreeable attitude. but it is important to remember that dress is an integral part of culture. people often draw conclusions about status and authority based on clothing. Certain conflicts might become unresolvable because some mainstream Americans approach a conflict situation with a predisposition to make assumptions. Their expectations lead them to judge people by their dress. aggressive behavior. Other cultures employ smiling only as a recognition signal. 1. Indeed. Though conflict resolution does not call for changing basic values. 4. nonverbal responses may also become a problem. 2. The values of the individuals can conflict with each other and even with those of a third party. perhaps the complainer can be persuaded to “lower the temperature. With respect to Language Issues. but if the speakers come from other cultures. What people wear and their degree of formality or informality may indicate they are merely following the norms of their own group. it is obvious that words and accents get in the way of effective communication. 3. With respect to Expectations. The remedies for serious value clashes can range from switching the subject to a less controversial issue or calling for a temporary time out. They might misinterpret other parties’ unfamiliar or even bothersome responses (extended periods of silence. in some cultures. the best chance for a resolution comes only after emotions have been vented and voices are raised.First Thoughts about Others: Perception IQ Quiz SUMMARY As you check your answers. A number of options exist for interpretation of the issues raised. it offers an opportunity to negotiate behaviors comfortable to both parties.).

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Who is that person? ___________________________________________________ 2. Begin by considering the finest peacemaker you have ever met. Though it seems easier to identify people who practice violence than think about those who possess peacemaking skills. WORKSHEET Think back to the conflict situations you have read about or been a part of. Decide on a real person. or from your imagination. we are surrounded by violence. Continue by answering the following questions: 1. _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 139 . Fill out the worksheet below: 1. What are the qualities of this person that make him or her stand out so clearly in your mind? _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 3. worked with. What is your imaginary character like? Describe him or her. both real and imaginary. here is an opportunity to look at ideal peacemakers. What peacemaking skills does that person demonstrate? _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ Now select a fictional character—based either on a folk tale or other well-known story.) INTRODUCTION: More than any other time in our history. and what distinguishes them from the rest of us. or read about. ( “Peacemaker” is defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary as “a person who makes peace by settling the disagreements of others”.The Ideal Peacemaker: Can You Imagine That? PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To determine what qualities and skills are most typical of effective peacemakers.

What are the qualities of this person that make you think of him or her as an ideal peacemaker? _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 3. we gave some thought to those qualities and skills that contribute to the character of an effective peacemaker. What peacemaking skills would you expect that person to demonstrate? _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ 4. Do you think those skills are transferable to your personal conflict-resolution ability? In what way? _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ SUMMARY It would be a good idea if. from time to time. When you work on your conflict resolution skills. keep in mind the lessons in the above exercise.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution 2. Good luck!! 140 .

THE BACK OF THE BOOK: SELF-DEVELOPMENT V RESOLVING CONFLICT SITUATIONS .

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Notice that the second party uses nonjudgmental responses. which consists of (1) employing replies that will restate the speaker’s real interest. exacerbating discord and transforming a mild conflict situation into full-blown conflict. The essence of this technique is that the listener pays very close attention to the unstated thoughts of the speaker and prepares a careful response. At the same time. realize that any spoken words can take on meanings that the speaker never intended. use the technique of Nonjudgmental Responses.” If this had happened to you. A perfectly innocent word or phrase can trigger feelings and emotions in other people. This might not happen quickly. think about what the complainer might really need or want and jot down your ideas below: ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 143 . In all cases. and (2) acknowledging his or her unspoken desires. the listener should reply with nonjudgmental responses. I’ll take you to court. it can lower the temperature and transform a confrontation situation into a reasonable discussion. and how individuals can respond in a nonjudgmental way. This approach can be used by parties in conflict or by a neutral third party. The complainer told his neighbor. BACKGROUND INFORMATION & WORKSHEET Instead of addressing specific criticisms or complaints. INTRODUCTION: Spoken words can mask a speaker’s actual interests and conceal a hidden agenda.Uncovering the Hidden Agenda PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To address two intertwined subjects: the interests of parties engaged in conflict. The listener might find it helpful to go behind the speaker’s spoken words and try to identify his or her unspoken thoughts. “If you don’t stop parking that way. If used judiciously. The following is an example of a situation exploring one party’s interests. but a well-reasoned discussion can reveal the speaker’s true interests. A man has complained to his neighbor about his neighbor’s occasional blocking of the complainer’s driveway with his car.

Here’s what really happened: Complainer’s actual interest involved the occasional visit from his aged mother who could not get around without the aid of a walker. 144 . With this matter out in the open. The neighbor responds with a lowkey remark showing empathy. SUMMARY Both parties’ statements may appear to be somewhat unreal. and then adds a follow-up comment indicating that he has sought and possibly found the complainer’s unspoken agenda. but it’s evident that the complainer opens the discussion with an accusation that would probably have led to a serious confrontation. Could it be that this has something to do with the elderly woman with the walker I sometimes see at your place?” The neighbor guessed correctly that the complainer had an unspoken concern about his mother’s occasional visits. the parties were able to begin to work out a mutually satisfactory resolution. rather than walk the shorter and more level path on the driveway.” the neighbor said. Instead of a blunt response that the complainer “doesn’t own the streets. The neighbor’s parked car forced her to climb a steep walkway.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution ________________________________________________________________________ Almost any of your ideas might be true. “I can understand how annoying it must be to have your driveway blocked occasionally.

thereby avoiding an argument.” Interest: ____________________________________________________________ Nonjudgmental response: _____________________________________________ 6. On the form below. “My group talks too much. Then think of a response that recognizes the complainer’s interest and initiates a discussion. it looks like no one’s in charge. “I never get overtime and I need the money. “The night shift always leaves the place in a mess. but he never got chewed out like I did.” Interest: ____________________________________________________________ Nonjudgmental response: _____________________________________________ 3. I can never get anything done. “So I made the same mistake Harry made.” Interest: ____________________________________________________________ Nonjudgmental response: _____________________________________________ 4.” 1. fill out your carefully-constructed responses under “Interest” and “Nonjudgmental response. “I had to show the engineer how to fix it.” Interest: ____________________________________________________________ Nonjudgmental response: _____________________________________________ 145 .” Interest: ____________________________________________________________ Nonjudgmental response: _____________________________________________ 5. Decide initially what the complainer’s interest really is.Your Turn: A Nonjudgmental Exercise PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To understand nonjudgmental responses and practice making them. but he took all the credit himself.” Interest: ____________________________________________________________ Nonjudgmental response: _____________________________________________ 2. “Things have gotten very confused in the shop. WORKSHEET In each of the ten situations below. pretend you are the recipient of a complaint. INTRODUCTION: The ability to frame your responses to potentially incendiary questions or statements nonjudgmentally is one of the most powerful skills in conflict resolution.

“Whose idea was it to change the Chart of Accounts? Interest: ___________________________________________________________ Nonjudgmental response: ____________________________________________ 8. but then the director calls in an outsider to take over. “If we can dress casual on Friday.” Interest: ___________________________________________________________ Nonjudgmental response: ____________________________________________ When completed. “I knocked myself out on that cover shot. compare your responses with the suggested replies on the next page. Keep in mind that there are many correct answers. each based on its own context. 146 . but then he cuts me off in the parking lot and laughs at me. “Todd always comes to me for help. what’s wrong with casual all week?” Interest: ___________________________________________________________ Nonjudgmental response: ____________________________________________ 9.” Interest: ___________________________________________________________ Nonjudgmental response: ____________________________________________ 10.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution 7.

“Whose idea was it to change the Chart of Accounts?” Interest: CONSIDERATION OF THE EFFECT OF CHANGE ON OTHER PEOPLE Response might be: “It must be very frustrating working with an obsolete Chart 147 . Any thoughts on what we can do to lower the voice level?” 4.” Interest: ACCESS TO SUPPLEMENTAL INCOME Response might be: “We know that overtime can put money in your pocket quickly.” Interest: ORGANIZATIONAL LAXITY Response might be: “It’s sure no fun working in a place that’s not well organized.Your Turn: A Nonjudgmental Exercise Suggested Responses to “Your Turn” Exercise Each complaint listed below is followed by a statement that recognizes the complainer’s “Interest. “I had to show the engineer how to fix it. but he never got chewed out like I was. I can never get anything done.” Interest: ANNOYING CONVERSATION UNRELATED TO WORK Response might be: “It must be hard to work when others are talking all the time. “My group talks too much.” Interest: ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF CONTRIBUTION Response might be: “I think it’s great that you were able to make the fix. 1.” 5.” and then a suggested nonjudgmental response that meets the criteria. “I never get overtime and I need the money. Can you think of other ways to improve your paycheck?” 2. I made the same mistake Harry made. “The night shift always leaves the place in a mess. I would guess you have some ideas to correct the problem. Now we have to see to it that you get all the credit you deserve. but he took all the credit himself.” 7.” Interest: COOPERATION BY FELLOW EMPLOYEES Response might be: “Why do you think this annoying situation is going on? What approaches might resolve the situation?” 6. “Things have gotten very confused in the shop. it looks like no one’s in charge. “So.” 3.” Interest: PERCEIVED INEQUITABLE TREATMENT Response might be: “Do you believe you’re being treated unfairly? We can talk about that.

but then the director calls in an outsider to take over.” SUMMARY As part of the conflict-resolution process. 148 . the way in which a party or parties phrase a statement or question can determine the form in which a nonjudgmental response is handled.” Interest: INGRATITUDE Response might be: “That’s really too bad that Todd shows no gratitude for your help. What do you think we can do to correct the situation?” 8.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution of Accounts. It sure makes your job twice as hard. but then he cuts me off in the parking lot and laughs at me. “If we can dress casual on Friday. the level of contention can be reduced. If this exercise is used in a workshop environment. “I knocked myself out on that cover shot. what’s wrong with casual all week?” Interest: COMPANY IMAGE Response might be: “You’re saying that the dress code seems inconsistent.” Interest: PRIDE OF OWNERSHIP Response might be: “Sounds like you feel that your good efforts go unappreciated. Can you think of any reasons why?” 10. If done skillfully. “Todd always comes to me for help. Could be… Why do you think there is a dress code?” 9. the participants can compare one another’s responses and thus benefit from the broader exchange of ideas.

questions can be either “open” (encourages people to talk and contribute to the conversation) or “closed” (discourages people from free dialogue and engenders resentment against perceived hostility). Closed or direct questions usually require a one.or two-word answer. Among other reasons that we ask questions are: • to get information (“What happened?”) • to clarify something you don’t understand (“Could you explain this for me?”) • to confirm your own opinion (“Don’t you agree?”) • to get a new perspective (“How do you see it? I know we have different opinions. both positive and negative. Indeed. and how they can affect a conflict situation. did you?”) • to draw someone out (“What else. INTRODUCTION: People ask questions for a variety of reasons. BACKGROUND INFORMATION & WORKSHEET Why do people ask questions? The obvious answer. Open or open-ended questions are more likely to encourage people to talk and to provide the questioner with new information that might be helpful. Here are some examples: 149 . Questions that begin with words like “Why?” are also counterproductive.A Questionable Exercise PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To explore various types of questions. didn’t you?”) • to know the “truth” (“You never even tried to call. . . not as a defendant. “to get answers.?”) Questions are often categorized as either open or closed.”) • to check the “facts” (“Isn’t this your jacket?”) • to trap someone (“You knew we weren’t home. They invite the other person to participate in the discussion as an equal. not just to get answers. • “Did you do that?” • “When did you say that?” • “Who made this mess?” • “Where were you last night?” Closed questions generally do not lend themselves to continued conversation and might be perceived by the person being questioned as hostile or designed to provoke something.” is not always true.

questions that begin with “Why” are not particularly helpful in a conflict situation.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution • • • • • “And then…?” “How do you see the situation?” “I’m not getting your point.” Think about the following: • “Why did you do that?” (the listener is likely to hear: “Why are you so stupid?”) • “Why did that happen?” (could be heard as “Why did you LET such a terrible thing happen?”) • “Why weren’t you there?” (sounds like “You SHOULD have been there. Many of us will either refuse to answer or respond in a way that increases rather than decreases the tension. could you please help me understand?” “What would you like from me at this point?” “How did it happen?” “What else.. it is difficult for them to respond constructively..”) When people feel criticized or defensive. They almost always make the other person defensive because there is usually an implied judgment or criticism to the so-called “question.?” As a general rule. 150 . The following exercise will explore typical examples.

Then look at the ones you marked as C and identify what the questioner’s purpose was in asking the question. If appropriate. 1 _____ “Didn’t you read the manual before you deleted the program?” _____ Purpose of the question: ________________________________________ _____ Alternative: ___________________________________________________ 2. _____ “You’re telling two different stories. suggest an alternative question or statement to get the same information more effectively. _____ “Would you lend a hand and explain what’s happening here?” _____ Purpose of the question: ________________________________________ _____ Alternative: ___________________________________________________ 151 . which one is the truth? _____ Purpose of the question: ________________________________________ _____ Alternative: ___________________________________________________ 6. _____ “Are you insisting that you always return my calls?” _____ Purpose of the question: ________________________________________ _____ Alternative: ___________________________________________________ 5. _____ “Would you sign a purchase order without reading it first?” _____ Purpose of the question: ________________________________________ _____ Alternative: ___________________________________________________ 3. Why are you consistently showing up late?” _____ Purpose of the question: ________________________________________ _____ Alternative: ___________________________________________________ 8. mark each of the questions below as C (closed) or O (open). you should experiment with asking open rather than closed questions. As a way to practice. _____ “Could you clarify the picture by explaining your thinking?” _____ Purpose of the question: ________________________________________ _____ Alternative: ___________________________________________________ 4.A Questionable Exercise A QUESTIONABLE EXERCISE If you really want to find out what is going on with someone. _____ “The entire department waited for you. _____ “Where were you for our meeting this morning?” _____ Purpose of the question: ________________________________________ _____ Alternative: ___________________________________________________ 7.

in all fairness. ALTERNATIVES TO THE CLOSED QUESTIONS IN THIS EXERCISE 1. and 9 are open-ended questions designed to de-escalate emotion and to invite the listener to participate in further discussion or clarification. 4. let me show you the section that affects this situation and see if you agree with my interpretation. You must agree that we’ve passed the point where I have to hold up an important meeting just because you are late again. which would be useful if the speaker truly wanted information. I know how busy we’ve been. I don’t expect to see them show up on my desk late again. but your last quarterly report was six weeks late. Tell me what you will do to assure that you will make it on time from now on. I recognize that critical situations can change very fast and might lead to different stories at different times. Now that you realize the importance of timely reports. Also. Below are some possible alternatives to the closed questions as stated. 6. 10. We can go into that later. 152 . but this meeting was critical and I suggest you get one of the attendees to brief you. _____ “What can the rest of us do to help us get back on track?” _____ Purpose of the question:________________________________________ _____ Alternative: __________________________________________________ 10. You must have had a real problem making this morning’s meeting. that should work both ways. 7. Manuals aren’t always easy to read. Let’s assign priorities to phone calls. Just bring me up to date on the latest situation. for our purposes. 2. 8. 5. so you can focus on them. You know that the reports form the basis of our master compliance submission. _____ “When did you file the last set of reports?” _____ Purpose of the question:________________________________________ _____ Alternative: __________________________________________________ Although each question might seem appropriate when asked in a particular context. You probably have read a thousand purchase orders filled with boiler-plate language. and agree that the high priority ones will always be answered promptly. Let’s sit down together and flag only those provisions that are critical. only numbers 3.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution 9.

you can try to identify what the other speaker may be needing. You are more likely to diffuse the potential conflict so that you can both gain a clearer understanding of each other’s point of view before you make decisions you may regret. This is particularly true when one is dealing with someone from another culture. 153 . You can then ask for more information using questions that are open.A Questionable Exercise SUMMARY Conflicts often escalate as a result of responses that were not intended to be provocative but that the listener “hears” as provocative. Our experience is that if you approach such discussions in a nonjudgmental way.

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BACKGROUND INFORMATION & WORKSHEET The four-step model of direct communication includes the following steps: 1.” Speaking forthrightly helps you assert yourself and prevent emotions from taking over. Describe the specific observed behavior that you want to discuss. This will help you and the party involved stay focused. INTRODUCTION: When people are engaged in difficult conflict. they often forget to use one of their most important allies—“direct communication. Example: “Please try to speak to me rather than yell at me. Example: “When you yell at me…” STEP 2: Express your feelings and reactions about the other person’s behavior. and then answer questions on the worksheet that follows. Suggest an alternate behavior. use “I feel…” rather than “everyone feels. Express your feelings and reactions about the behavior. Be sure that it’s doable. STEP 1: Describe to the other disputant his or her specific behavior that is getting in the way of your ability to resolve the conflict.” 155 .” Example: “I feel attacked…” STEP 3: Suggest an alternate behavior.Direct Communication: Its Use in Conflict Resolution PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To use direct communication as a tool in resolving conflicts. requesting rather than commanding. Offer support. Remember that your goal is to communicate a way of correcting a situation that is interfering with the dialogue. Review the following explanation of each step. Talking about how you feel gives the other person information about how his or her behavior is impacting you. 4. Approach: First ask specifically what you want the other person to do. Approach: Speak using “I” rather than generalizing. 3. Give suggestions. The benefit is that this provides specific information on what you need from the other person. 2. not the personality. Approach: Keep your message focused on the behavior. The four step model described below can help refocus and express what you are looking for.

6. When did it occur? 3. 2. How did you react? 7.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution STEP 4: Outline the positive results and offer support. In what situation did it occur? 5. What is the behavior? Describe it. review the situation. What support can you provide? 9. It is important that that person understands your feelings and expectations. It is extremely useful to keep focused and at the same time to be clear with your suggestions and to be nonthreatening. and also feels encouraged. Be positive about the outcome. Think of a past experience where you were engaged in conflict and answer the following questions: 1. 156 . Approach: Revisit the points discussed. Describe your feelings when the behavior occurred. focusing on the importance of the change in behavior. What would you like to see changed? 8. This will provide an opportunity to make sure that the other person understands what is expected from the new behavior. ************ Use the following worksheet to plan how you will use direct communication. How often did it happen? 4. How can you end on a positive note ? SUMMARY This exercise gives you an idea of how to use Direct Communication when dealing with a disputant whose behavior you would like to see changed.

Listen carefully to others whose opinions are different than your own? 4. Listening Competency Do You… 1. Avoid listening if it will take extra effort to understand? 6. WORKSHEET Circle the number that most clearly describes your choice. Attempt to determine the purpose of the communication (the speaker’s real needs)? 11. Pay full attention to the speaker’s message instead of what that person looks like? 2. Talk more than listen? Almos t alway s Frequently Sometimes Almos t never 4 3 2 1 1 2 3 4 4 4 1 4 1 1 3 3 2 3 2 2 2 2 3 2 3 3 1 1 4 1 4 4 4 4 1 3 3 2 2 2 3 1 1 4 157 . Make the speaker think you’re giving them your full attention. Assume you know what the speaker will say and quickly start thinking of other things? 3. Listen without making judgments? 7. Make extra effort when you hear an accent? 5. Figure out and acknowledge the feelings that the speaker might be experiencing? 10. even if you’re thinking about other things? 9. and discover what aspects you might develop more fully. Let your own emotions get in the way? 8. INTRODUCTION: This exercise provides a quantitative self-assessment analysis to evaluate your listening skills in questionnaire form. determine where your strengths are.Supportive Listening: What’s Your Score? PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To help you become more aware of your listening skills.

the messenger. Summarize in your owns words what you heard the speaker say? 14.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution 12. the messenger. and the means of communication before you respond? Listening Competency Do You… 13. Experienced 158 . places. Check assumptions about the message. Interrupt without giving the speaker an opportunity to finish the thought? 18. especially when it involves different people. and the means of communication before you respond? Scoring Total the numbers in each category you circled on the questionnaire to get your score. and ideas? 15. Recognize your “hot buttons” and not let them get in the way of your listening? 17. Start thinking what you will say while the speaker is still talking? 16. Turn your listening experience into a learning one. Check assumptions about the message. Almost Always + Frequently + Sometimes + Almost Never = Total ______________ + _________ + __________ + ____________ = ________ Super Listener Better than Average Average Needs Improvement 59–72 46–58 32–45 18–31 1 2 3 4 Almos t alway s Frequently Sometimes Almos t never 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 1 4 1 4 2 3 2 3 3 2 3 2 4 1 4 1 SUMMARY The art of listening is far more important than people realize.

The greatest listening skill is to always instinctively respond with supportive listening when you are put in the position of being the listener. and it is in large part responsible for their success.A Questionable Exercise conflict-resolution practitioners have developed this ability. The exercise that follows illustrates the point. 159 .

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This exercise will give you an opportunity to rate yourself on those skills. SUMMARY A nationally-recognized team of experts in the field agree that the above ten skills on which you rated yourself are the most important in conflict resolution. you are probably communicating well when dealing with conflicts on a variety of issues. If your total is less than 40. you have some work to do to improve your skills.Skills that Make a Difference PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To revisit the skills that make a difference in the outcome of a conflict-resolution session. INTRODUCTION: It is important from time to time to review the skills that contribute to successful conflict resolution. 161 . Experience has proven that these obviously desirable skills can help considerably when they are introduced in the resolution process. WORKSHEET Rate yourself on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high) in each of these skills: ______ To be open to differences ______ To treat people as individuals ______ To look at whether expectations are real ______ To be aware of stereotypes ______ To check assumptions about other people or groups ______ To accept ambiguity ______ To be comfortable communicating with people different than you ______ To be nonjudgmental ______ To exhibit empathy ______ To listen and observe If your total is close to 50.

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_____ When I left last night. To create the climate for understanding and work toward an equitable agreement. you were still in your office. disputants need to be able to turn opinions into factual information. 5. 3. 1. 4. rewrite those sentences that you identified as opinions on the lines below. When you have completed the above exercise. WORKSHEET Place the letter F in front of the sentences you see as statements of Fact and place the letter O in front of the sentences you see as Opinions. Check them against the answers on the following page. INTRODUCTION: Most people believe that they can distinguish fact from opinion. _____ It's not fair that you always get the visible assignments at this company. putting them in the form of factual statements. 2. _____ The raise you requested was granted by the Plant Manager. _____ You spend too much time on breaks. ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________ 163 . 6. Opinion PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To clarify the difference between fact and opinion.Fact vs. They are often mistaken. _____ You're too impatient. _____ The draft of the memo you submitted was great. and learn to use language that reflects facts rather than opinion.

The draft memo you submitted was great. you were still in your office. 1. 164 . 3. whether you are shading the difference yourself or faced with others who are doing so. 5. Compare the suggestions below with what you wrote. The raise you requested was granted by the Plant Manager. they are a hindrance rather than a help to conflict resolution. Opinion—Answers 1.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution Fact vs. 2. _ We have had three customers complain that you have been impatient with them. A fact is something that has been objectively verified. O F O O F O You spend too much time on breaks. It was well done. F F F F _ I've been documenting the time you take for breaks and you consistently take an extra five minutes. Opinion Suggested Rewrites There are many ways you might have changed the opinion statements to fact. It's not fair that you always get the visible assignments at this company. keeping in mind that the key to a fact is that the rewritten sentences must contain information that has been verified and that has been quantified. 4. _ The last three visible assignments have been given to you. 3. 4. When I left last night. Fact vs. 6. You're too impatient. 6. When opinions and facts are carelessly thrown around. _ The memo you submitted covered all the required points. SUMMARY One dictionary defines an opinion as a belief or conclusion held with confidence but not substantiated by positive knowledge or proof. It is important that you remain fully aware of their difference.

It’s interesting that… You ought to apologize to her for… In other words… I think you’re hiding something. WORKSHEET Following is a list of typical remarks heard in a conflict-resolution session. INTRODUCTION: Participants in a conflict resolution situation are not always aware that they can create greater contention through their choice of certain words and phrases (escalate). I don’t think you’ll ever get it done. (See the first two lines for examples. This exercise explores both options. You feel frustrated that the machine is not working. Acknowledge: The Choice Is Yours PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To show how the choice of words or phrases by one party might escalate the confrontational tone of a meeting. If you really felt that way. You’re so late. How did you do? 165 . You say that this issue is important to you. You are wondering if this problem can be solved.) E A Why didn’t you listen? That must have been hard for you. It’s upsetting that your overtime is interfering with your family life. The following section will give you the correct answers. Your office supplies are the most expensive in the department. You’re always disrupting the meeting. Mark “E” for those that lead to escalation. By the same token. You see yourself as a very dedicated employee. It will never work. you would have… So you think that… Your main concern is… If I were you… You are angry because… You’re just trying to get out of it. or reduce the tension by acknowledging the position of the other party.Escalate vs. or “A” for those that acknowledge the other party’s position. they can also lower the temperature in a meeting by re-stating the other party’s position (acknowledge).

You’re so late. You say that this issue is important to you.” and sentences that begin with “You…” On the other hand. You are wondering if this problem can be solved.” “always.” Acknowledging rather than escalating can go a long way toward reducing the acrimony in a conflict and producing a more conciliatory environment. For example. the “A” phrases. Unfortunately. But consider phrases like those marked with an “A. You feel frustrated that the machine is not working. It’s upsetting that your overtime is interfering with your family life. you would have… So you think that… Your main concern is… If I were you… You are angry because… You’re just trying to get out of it. without appearing to do so. Conflict is then escalated without people realizing what caused it. You see yourself as a very dedicated employee. send messages of disapproval. as are statements that contain “should. It’s interesting that… You ought to apologize to her for… In other words… I think you’re hiding something. show acknowledgment and lead to furthering an open discussion during the conflict-resolution process. It will never work. SUMMARY It is important to realize how critical the art of acknowledgment is to conflict resolution. it is often easier to respond with escalate-type phrases or sentences like these that have the “E” in front of them. which carefully re-phrase the speaker’s statements. Your office supplies are the most expensive in the department. some statements. 166 . I don’t think you’ll ever get it done. If you really felt that way.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution E A A E A E E A A E A E A A E A E E A E A Why didn’t you listen? That must have been hard for you. You’re always disrupting the meeting.” “ought. an “E” sentence can also carry hidden meanings that can interfere with the free exchange of ideas and bring out defensiveness. “Why” questions are often challenging and punitive.” or “never. Aside from escalation.

I’m not going to discuss this further. You got exactly what you wanted and I got nothing. remember that it is positive statements that contribute to solving a problem. Don’t tell me what to do. Write in the space next to each negative statement the appropriate positive counterpart statement. Never! The meeting can’t go on like this. You’re wrong! I don’t think you’re open to change. (See the first line for an example. regardless of others. I’ve never heard of anything like this. You’re not willing to give me what I need. WORKSHEET Listed below are typical statements that could arise during a conflict resolution session.Turning Negatives into Positives PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To practice the art of re-framing negative statements into positive ones. 167 Positive Counterpart Statement I’d appreciate your full attention for a while. That’s not acceptable to me. You go your way. You always get your way. That’s not the way we did it before. I’ll go mine.) Negative Statement You aren’t listening to me. I’m not going to do that. If you find yourself using negative statements. . You never give me a chance. I don’t see it your way. INTRODUCTION: Negative statements put others on the defensive.

Below are some suggested examples. Think about whether your positive statements will help avoid putting the other party on the defensive. Don’t tell me what to do. Never! The meeting can’t go on like this. I’ll go mine. I’d rather try something else. That’s not the way we did it before. Experience and common sense should help. One key to advancing the conflict-resolution process is to select the most appropriate positive counterpart in context. Negative Statement You aren’t listening to me. Positive Counterpart Statement I’d appreciate your full attention for a while. you may be right. You’re wrong! I don’t think you’re open to change. I’d like to see both of us win. I don’t see it your way. I’d like to look further and discuss options. I’m not going to do that. I’ve never heard of anything like this. SUMMARY There are many positive counterpart statements that could be used instead of any single negative statement. you can experiment by practicing using this skill in your everyday communication. You never give me a chance. We both need to come out of this satisfied. You got exactly what you wanted and I got nothing. You’re not willing to give me what I need. I’m not going to discuss this further. please give it a chance. You always get your way. It might be a good idea to look at a new way of doing it. Let’s look at it. You go your way. Sometimes… Let’s schedule another meeting to give us some time to think. Let’s try to find a mutually agreeable solution. let’s explore. 168 . This is new to me. Let’s schedule another time to meet. regardless of others. That’s not acceptable to me. Though it means change.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution Suggested Positive Counterpart Statements There is certainly more than one way to convert negative statements into positive ones. I would prefer to make my own decision. Can we find a way to meet both our needs? Perhaps you can hold your suggestions for a while. We may have a different points of view.

attitude. or even on superficial clues. etc. write down a brief description of the man. taking into account his clothing.Eight Different Points of View PURPOSE OF THE EXERCISE: To understand that the perceptions of others often play a role in conflict resolution. and of others. is very important because we view the physical and social worlds around us through the private lens of our own perception. WORKSHEET Perception can generally be defined as our view of life. and to avoid stereotyping or prejudging. This exercise involves three stages. It is based on the interpretation of our past experiences. It is a selective process because it is subjective. First Stage Take a few minutes to think about Graphic #1: “The Man in the Middle. half-smile. In conflict resolution. it is important to remain open to others. INTRODUCTION: Early life experiences and our own beliefs and values generally determine how we look at other people who are different from us. People frequently base their opinions of others on first impressions. casual stance.” Then. as well as in our everyday lives. based on your first perceptions. _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ _________________________________________________________ 169 . Understanding the role of perception in conflict resolution. overall appearance. This exercise demonstrates how quick and easy it is to categorize differences based on our own personal frame of reference. each with its own version of the graphic describing The Man in the Middle. of ourselves. to always be nonjudgmental.

based on their own natural frame of reference. One is not necessarily correct or incorrect. 170 . On the lines below. There are no winners in this exercise. _________________________________ E. _________________________________ F. ________________________________ D. _________________________________ G. or be quite different. _________________________________ H. the purpose is to understand that different points of view have a great influence on how you see others and the world around you. _________________________________ B. A. write down your brief description of The Man in the Middle as he might be viewed by each of the individuals around him. Your descriptions may resemble the ones we suggested. _________________________________ C. ________________________________ Third Stage Finally.50 Activities for Conflict Resolution Second Stage Now turn to Graphic #2. turn the page and compare your descriptions with those offered in Graphic # 3. Then consider how the eight different individuals in the circle might each describe The Man in the Middle.

They also may impact our behavior. If you believe clothes or communication styles are very important. you may treat someone negatively if you disapprove of that person’s style. When there is conflict. our perceptions of those we communicate with are often formed quickly. if you perceive someone to have very different values.Eight Different Points of View SUMMARY In conflict resolution and many other forms of interpersonal communication. For example. you may feel superior and behave in a counterproductive way. individual points of view are likely to affect both attitude and behavior. 171 .

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