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Conflict Resolution Guidelines

A.  Most important is the willingness to understand the other person’s point of view and to give it validity.  (Perception checks)

B. Attempt to use the four-step format during the conversation.
     1. Each person describes how the situation is affecting him/her.
     2. Each person describes the ideal situation/relationship from their point of view.   Attempt to reach agreement as to the ideal.
     3. Discuss the changes that need to be made and how to make them.
     4. Discuss the possible consequences if the changes are not made.

C. During the conversation, attempt to follow these norms:
     1. Be open to change, be open to the possibility of being wrong.
     2. Focus on behaviors, not character.
     3. The parties in the conflict agree that the goal is to fix the problem—not assign  blame, hurt, humiliate, or threaten.
     4. Issues and problems will not be accumulated, but dealt with as they occur.
     5. Both parties agree to stick it out until an equitable solution is found—neither party will avoid the issue or run away from it.
     6. A place that is comfortable and neutral is best.  It should provide privacy and be free from all kinds of interruptions.
     7. Both parties need to agree on how the issues and resolutions will be recorded: newsprint, tape recorder, third party, etc.
     8. Both parties agree that whatever happens in the conflict session will remain confidential unless mutual agreement says otherwise.  When an individual member of a meeting wishes to make a process comment he or she says “Check” and the person running the meeting must immediately inquire about what the “Check” is and address the concern before moving on in the meeting.
     9. Each party is allowed to identify points that, if used, would be considered “hitting below the belt”.
     10. The parties agree not to bad-mouth each other before or after the session.
     11. Both parties participate in the decision as to whether or not a third party or mediator is needed.  If one is desired, both parties must agree as to whom that person will be—preferably someone who is objective to the problem, flexible, assertive about moving things along, has a sense of humor, and the ability to cut through the superficialities to the meat of the problem.

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