5 Steps of Conflict Resolution

5 steps of conflict resolution, organized messes

5 steps of conflict resolution, organized messes

John Legend. Ordinary People. Because we are. 

Loving others isn't always easy. We have our histories, our past pains, and our demons to confront every now and then. There's something about intimacy and love that can bring us to our worst selves. We wouldn't dare treat our coworkers or bosses the way we treat our partners, children, or siblings sometimes. Mr. Legend has some good advice: maybe we should take it slow. Perhaps taking a step back to identify consistent problems can help. This can be a complicated process because many of us do not have the tools to communicate without getting emotional heated. 

As a school counselor intern, I've worked with many students on conflict resolution skills. I've also worked with parents to help them work towards becoming more effective parenting partners. Here is a breakdown of the process:

Before starting, taking a break to cool off is okay.

NOTE: If those involved cannot start resolutions "softly" try:

Gottman Institute's Softening Start Up Homework

Ensure participants are at a place where they can be receptive and not reactive

Rules During Conflict Resolution: 

  • Stay respectful.

  • No name calling.

  • Listen while one person speaks.

  • Tell the truth.

  • Try understanding the other person's experience and feelings.

  • Be willing to compromise.

Rule 1: Identify the problem

Is there even a problem for all parties involved? How does it affect you and the group? 

  • Skill to use: I-Messages/I-Statements
    • It is important to speak in first person to identify how a problem affects you. If the conversation starts harsh, it is very likely there will be no resolution.
    • Ex: I feel (emotion) when (action/behavior) because (how it affects you). I want (solution). 
    • I-Message: Asking for Change | Patricia M. Castellanos, MS
  • Reflecting others' emotions and experience. (This takes extra practice)

Rule 2: Conflict Resolutions

Identify all possible solutions and outcomes. All feedback is respected and accepted as a potential solution.

Rule 3: Agree on a solution

Try it out and report back. This is a process and requires openness to trial and error. Positive acknowledgment or effort is very important. It encourages one to continue trying. 

Rule 4: Check in

What worked and what didn't? Again, acknowledge and praise efforts. *VERY IMPORTANT* Please praise effort! Brainstorm how to make it work better. 

Rule 5: Rinse and repeat for other conflicts

*NOTE: We are ordinary people. This new process of conflict resolution can take time, and having a mediator or a professional healer to guide in the beginning may help encourage each person involved to continue trying. Repeated failed attempts are very discouraging.

Asking for help is a sign of strength, and there are amazing therapists who can help.