Do conflicts cause you to shut down? Run away? Blow up? Do you expect the worst when it comes to the outcome of a conflict? Conflict Resolution Day, which started in 2005 by the Association for Conflict Resolution, is a global event celebrated on the third Thursday of October. Throughout all of October, Colorado is promoting Conflict Resolution Month: Listen. Talk. Work it Out.
One goal is to increase education for all ages to “promote awareness of mediation, arbitration, conciliation and other creative, peaceful means of resolving conflict.” In other words, let us be civilized.
It sounds so simple. So logical. Yet we all know that this is sometimes hard to do.
A conflict resolution scenario: A toddler is screaming for a banana in a crowded grocery store. Do you peal the banana to quell the screams and evil stares of onlookers? Do you ignore the high-pitched shrieks hoping to finish the shopping before the windows shatter? Do you leave the cart behind and take your toddler home? Or do you turn to negotiating attempts, whispering to the toddler “If you really want the banana, you need to take a deep breath, stop screaming, and then we will talk about buying the banana.” It could work.
The point being, Conflict Resolution Day is not just for diplomats, the military, governments, and educators. All ages, backgrounds, and job positions can benefit from learning about peaceful conflict resolution practices. Ideas, motivations, goals, and perceptions are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what may cause a situation to become graver than a mere problem. A conflict has ties to a threat, whether real or not, when one or all parties feel as though they are under attack. Conflicts are often nerve-wracking.
When people are ready to regulate strong emotions and review the facts with an objective mind-set, they are working toward a resolution, as well as growth and building trust. According to Helpguide.org, “When you can recognize conflicting needs and are willing to examine them with compassion and understanding, it can lead to creative problem solving, team building, and stronger relationships.”
Sounds like a win-win situation. But how do those with opposing views actually get there?
Skills to help resolve conflicts include listening, being alert and calm, controlling both emotions and behavior, and maintaining respect by avoiding disrespectful words and actions. Stay balanced, focused, and connected. Deep breathing can be helpful. Keep motivated to find a resolution. Clear and effective communication is key. Resolving the conflict trumps the need to win or be right. Old grudges could impair your focus, so do your best to be in the present. Is now the right time to take on this battle? If not, let it go.
Remember, ignoring or running from a conflict is not a viable solution. Work on a resolution together. Be an active listener. Talk, don’t yell. Focus on working it out. Get the help of a mediator. Follow the Golden Rule, and in doing so, be willing to forgive. Or agree to disagree.
For more about conflict resolution, visit http://www.conflictresolutionmonth.org. Grand County Library District (GCLD) also has numerous resources available.