Q: Again, I've made a New Year's resolution to deal with conflict more constructively. In the past, I've done OK with the small stuff, but as soon as the first big conflict rears its ugly head I'm afraid it will be back to business as usual. What can I do to increase my chances of success?
A: You are wise to recognize that it takes more than desire to achieve New Year's Resolutions. As with any change, you need to make a plan and set a course in order to get where you want to go.
Start with a vision: What are you expecting to accomplish? To be able to sit down and problem-solve every time you disagree with anyone? To work through specific differences with specific people? Create a picture of the future that is feasible, flexible and focused.
Strategize: Develop strategies for making the changes needed to achieve your vision. Include realistic, attainable goals with practical objectives and timelines to keep you on course. Ask yourself questions such as: What conflict resolution skills do I possess that that I can better utilize or improve? What skills and methods do I need to develop and what are my options for doing so? What specific situations/people create conflict challenges?
Build support: Identify the people whose cooperation will improve your chances of success so you can seek their assistance. Ask yourself "What do I need from others and how can I get them involved?" Be prepared to plainly communicate your vision and goals, the steps you're taking to achieve them, and ways they can help you. Be careful that the focus is on changing you, not on how others need to change.
Motivate: Overcome the temptation to give up when you encounter the first big conflict by creating a positive context around your resolution. Work on your attitude about conflict (do you see it as a crisis or as an opportunity?), as well as your attitude about those with whom you disagree (are they wrong or do they have a different perspective?). Be sure to ask for constructive feedback - it builds morale and fuels motivation.
Monitor and celebrate: Check your progress, using goals and objectives as measures. Ask yourself, "how will I know I'm on track and how will I celebrate successes along the way?" Pat yourself on the back when you use good conflict resolution skills regardless of how well the conflict gets resolved.
Plan to achieve your New Year's resolutions and you will be successful. Happy New Year.
- Visit our website at www.alternativeresolutions.biz or call Cheryl Stinski or Karen Dorn at 920-993-1490 with questions you'd like answered in this column.