Conflict management and diffusion is an essential component in communication and directly applicable to criminal justice.
- Usually conflicts develop over time. Most conflict starters can be recognized.
- What suggestions would you give to someone confronted with a conflict starter statement?
How can the conflict be avoided?
Teaching empathy is one way to defuse conflicts at the starting point. Given a conflict starter, a person can be trained to recognize the emotional state of the person initiating the conflict and try to recognize the circumstances that have given rise to this emotional state.
Often, we get defensive when presented with a conflict starter. We see only that someone is initiating a conflict with us. We don't take the little step of trying to understand, immediately, why the other party is upset or initiating conflict.
Learning to put ourselves in the other person's position, to empathize, is one way to avoid the defense response and sometimes avoid conflict.
I agree that not all conflict can be resolved. Sometimes people must agree to disagree. However, one way to minimize the conflict involved in disagreement is to respond to a conflict starter with a response that seeks to find some common ground. For example, I am adamantly pro-choice, but in a discussion with someone who is adamantly pro-life, one point on which we usually can agree is that it is far more desirable to avoid starting an unwanted pregnancy than it is to abort one. That is something that we can both not only agree upon, but also can work towards. Even in the most polarized of situations, there is often something upon which both sides can agree. This is a strategy sometimes used in mediation.
We always talk about compromise in reference to conflict resolution, but a workshop I took a while back emphasized that the key is step back further. Your question mentions recognizing conflict starters. This is key. If we begin by recognizing a situation that will lead to conflict and using Cooperation early on, we avoid both conflict and compromise. Look at the situation and involve the thoughts, ideas and opinions of ALL the stakeholders. By using true cooperation at an early stage, conflict can be avoided, as can the imbalance that compromise lends itself to.
I have to agree with enotechris. Conflict resolution is based upon the assumption that all parties involved will be willing to compromise. In some circumstances, people will simply stand their ground and conflict resolution cannot exist.
The problem with conflict resolution is that it implies that all involved parties are working in their own rational best interests. If this is the case, conflict usually does not arise in the first place, since all parties can see the benefit of working out a situation, of finding the "win-win" situation that benefits everyone. Unfortunately, there are plenty examples throughout history, and by extension, people today, who seek their own interests to the detriment to those around them. They want what they want when they want it, and they don't care about the impact on others. In that case, I don't know if conflict can be avoided.
In addition to compromise, I feel that conflict can also be avoided by trying to see the other person's point of view and finding a solution where there is give and take on all sides. No one person should have the full benefit or pay the full price.
Conflict can generally be avoided through trying to compromise with the person who is trying to start the conflict. The person who is confronted with the conflict starter statement must try to find a way to acknowledge and validate the demands of the other person without giving in to them. An attempt needs to be made to make the other person feel that you acknowledge the validity of their emotions and desires.