Re: Help with Conflict Resolution
From: Karen Gimnig (
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2019 10:03:27 -0700 (PDT)
I'm in agreement with what Liz and Sharon have said already, and will add

In our culture blame and judgement are front and center. If the goal is
punishment or retribution (think our justice system), that works pretty
well.  If the goal is relationship, changes in behavior or changes in the
impact of that behavior, replacing judgement with curiosity will take you
much further.

One of the tenants of the Imago Relationships work that I do is "It's never
about what it's about."  Naming our actual needs is vulnerable work and
most of us aren't good at it. Instead we speak (often to ourselves as well
as everyone else) the things that feel safe and accepted by society, the
things that will "win the argument", rather than the core need we really
want addressed.

Working with conflict is about shifting that trend.  For example, say
someone has a designated parking space and someone else routinely parks
there.  In the judgement space it is easy to declare one person wrong and
for the other to claim that this is about breaking a rule.  But it isn't.
The rule isn't the need, and so far we have no idea why the person is
parking in the wrong space.  The need could be a mobility problem, or a
phobia. People with PTSD sometimes need particular parking because parked
cars can be a trigger.  And I'll point out here that every one of those
needs could apply to either person in the story, and it could be that
either person is unaware of the needs of the other.

This one is simple with a fairly simplistic answer. They aren't always. It
can take a lot of work to get to core issues and sometimes they are simply
in conflict. And sometimes the individuals involved lack the skills or the
safety to get there at all.  It's not always clean or easy.

What I believe is reliable is that curiosity, exploration, and lots of
listening are much more likely to result in positive changes than judgement
and blame.  If that is hard for you, as it is for most of us, you have an
opportunity for growth too.

Because I see relational skills as a key component in working well with
conflict, I will add this: You may need some help from someone who has
trained in this stuff, someone who can bring the tools for increasing
safety, self awareness and good communication.  A skilled facilitator can
make a huge difference, even when a fully satisfactory solution isn't going
to be found.

In Community,
Karen Gimnig
Professional Facilitator


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