In this episode I talk with Dana Caspersen, conflict specialist, speaker and author of the book: Changing the Conversation: the 17 Principles of Conflict Resolution. During the interview, Dana outlines very practical strategies that you can use when dealing with conflict.
Here are the 3 principles that Dana Caspersen discusses in regards to dealing with conflict:
Not hearing attack:
- You should ask yourself if you are primarily listening to pay attention to the attack, or if you are listening to the information that people are trying to tell you (even though they are saying it with an attacking tone).
- We cannot change people, but we are not required to engage with people on the level that they are suggesting we should.
- Recognize that in any attack situation there is information in that is useful. The ability to listen past the attack for this information is a very simple idea. However, because we are often so trained to listening and responding to attacks, it can be very simple to listen for the attack with the goal of attacking back.
- We should be able to recognize that the way we have dealt with conflict resolution up to this point, is not part of our character. It’s what we choose to do. You always have the ability to change. You are not stuck with what you have done before.
- Conflict is useful in that it brings out the energy that we need to deal with issues and it also, of course, identifies these issues. If you don’t solve the root causes of these issues, they won’t be resolved.
Differentiating between needs, interests and strategies
- Often times we are only interacting on the level of strategy. This is where a lot of deadlocks take place because we don’t recognize why people are choosing the strategies that they are promoting at the time.
- Below any strategy, there’s always a reason for why a person has chosen that strategy. When dealing with conflict, it can be very easy to attach to our own strategy of what we think we need. When in fact, what we need or what our basic interest is, lies below that and has a much broader realm of options.
- If we can understand the basic levels of needs and interest, then we will better understand why people are using the strategies they do. When you then bring people back to their level of interest, they will know that you are listening to them. In turn they might then become more willing to talk about options to resolve the conflict.
- We might feel at times that we fully understand the situation and that the other party doesn’t know what they are talking about, but the other party might indeed have some information that can be useful to us.
- When this strategy becomes something you can practice and become comfortable with, then you will always be able to try and resolve a conflict by offering an alternate strategy to someone, as opposed to shooting down the strategy that they have chosen.
Acknowledging without agreeing
- People want to know that they are being heard. Simply acknowledging what you don’t agree with is the first step to resolving conflict. This will show the other person that you are willing to listen to them.
- Sometimes we feel that if we acknowledge what the people said, that we will somehow be giving up on our own idea. In fact, acknowledging helps to put all the facts and information onto the table to help us understand what they need more clearly.
- It’s important to practice this strategy daily to develop your conflict resolution skills.
- The more we become skilled in being willing to step into the mess of a conflict, the more we will develop the personalities to listen past the attack. We will learn to acknowledge without agreeing and we will develop the willingness to differentiate between needs, interests and strategies.
More in this episode…
In the Take Action Today segment of the show, Dana will provide us with a framework of questions that will help you to work through conflict productively.
About Dana Caspersen
Dana Caspersen offers fundamental principles for developing a flexible, productive approach to navigating conflict. Dana has worked with thousands of people worldwide as an educator, coach, speaker, mediator and designer of large-scale interactive public dialogues. Her book, “Changing the Conversation: the 17 Principles of Conflict Resolution” is on required reading lists and professional development guides at institutions ranging from the University of Southern California and Rutgers University, to the design-led technology start-up, ROLI and the Dallas Law College. Dana holds an MS in Conflict Studies and Mediation and an MFA in Dance.
Conflict cannot survive without your participation. – Wayne Dyer
Resources and links mentioned in this session include:
Engineering Management Accelerator
Upcoming Engineering Management Institute Webinar
Conflict is a place of possibility | Dana Caspersen | TEDxHackneyWomen
Dana Casperson Website
Dana Caspersen Youtube
Dana Caspersen Twitter
Dana Caspersen Facebook
Dana Caspersen LinkedIn
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Books Mentioned in the Episode:
How should you be dealing with conflict productively?
We would love to hear any questions you might have or stories you might share on dealing with conflict in your career or life.
Please leave your comments, feedback or questions in the section below.
To your success,
Anthony Fasano, PE, LEED AP
Engineering Management Institute
Author of Engineer Your Own Success