Tag Archives: sociology

7 steps to managing conflict

Several years ago, when I started my current job, I had a conflict with another employee. By strict interpretation of our policies, I was right in my actions, but I managed it very poorly. Shortly after that, the other employee resigned. It was a lack of experience on my part. I was more interested in being right than resolving conflict.

One of the harsh lessons you learn early in life, conflict happens. Not everyone will agree with you all the time, or even some of the time. To be successful in life, you need to know how to manage conflict.

I’m not so glib as to expect there is some magic “7–step” solution that will automatically eliminate all your conflict. There are areas of disagreement –say personal beliefs– that may never be resolved. Some past actions, that have deeply affected your life, could require a therapeutic approach to resolve.

However, much of the day-to-day conflict you face can be managed with deliberate and clear communication. If you find conflict is getting in the way of your accomplishing what needs doing, try these steps:

Explain the situation as you see it – Invariably, conflict is about perception and understanding. Start by telling the other party your understanding of the situation.
Describe how it is affecting performance – Tell them how this conflict affects what need to be accomplished.
Ask them to explain their point of view – This can be difficult, but let the other party explain their point of view.
You may find that these first three steps provide enough clarity to resolve the conflict. If not, move on the the next four steps.

Agree on the problem – Reach agreement on the problem. You need a common understanding to develop a workable solution.
Explore and discuss possible solutions – Work together to develop a solution to the conflict. Both parties will stick with a solution they have had a role in developing.
Agree on what each person will do to solve the problem – Make sure you walk away from the session with a clear understanding of which party is responsible for what action.
Set a date for follow up – Don’t leave it hanging. Get together to make sure things are on track. If the conflict is of a complex nature, you may need several follow-up milestones.

In the case of individuals in conflict, this process can work one-on-one. In more complex conflicts, or where groups of people are involved, a third-party facilitator might be needed.

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7 Reasons to Volunteer

Once a month, my wife and I volunteer to visit a seniors home and conduct a church service for them. Periodically we wonder about our time commitment to these folks, but their gratitude each month helps us see the importance of being there.

If you want to make a difference in your community and in your own life, volunteering is the way to go. Here are seven reasons why you should make the commitment.

  1. To give something back to others – First and foremost, volunteering is about giving. Agencies and organization that require volunteer services are generally involved in improving society and the world around them. When you volunteer, you contribute to their efforts to improve life.
  2. To learn something about yourself – You might find out you have a knack for relating to seniors. You might have compassion when working with people during disasters. When volunteering puts you in new situations, you discover skills and traits you may not have used before.
  3. Because you have a passion – You love animals, so you get involved with an animal shelter. You’re concerned about the environment, so you join a wetlands cleaning project. You practice magic tricks in your spare time, so you entertain at a children’s hospital. Put your passion to work.
  4. To develop new skills – Get involved with Habitat for Humanity and learn how to put up drywall. Volunteer in a suicide-prevention program and learn crisis intervention. Many volunteer organizations provide training for the skills you will need to use.
  5. To have some fun – An afternoon of baseball as a Big Brother will be far more entertaining than sitting on the couch watching baseball.
  6. To improve your resume – If you’re a web designer and you volunteer to build a web site, you have a new entry in your portfolio. Volunteering in your skill areas will add experience to your resume.
  7. To feel good about yourself – Hopefully, when you decide to volunteer, it’s not with ulterior, self-serving motives. However, when you sincerely give of yourself to others, it’s amazing how good you start to feel about your own life.

It’s time to do something! Get out there and volunteer.

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