Identify areas of agreement
Taking the time to identify and appreciate areas of agreement helps not only to reduce the number of issues to be resolved, but also generates feelings of goodwill between parties. When folks realize that they do actually agree on certain things, finding common ground on the matters currently at issue seems much more likely and achievable.
Consider other perspectives
When we are so stuck on our own “rightness,” it is nearly impossible to find any value in a contrary standpoint. Be able to rise above your own biases and listen objectively to your adversaries and genuinely consider their perspective. This process will help to uncover the potential limitations of your position as well as the strengths of your adversary’s viewpoint, sparking mutual respect and fostering resolution.
There are those pesky emotions. In the heat of the moment, they can cause us to make knee-jerk reactions and say things we don’t mean and can’t take back. This can absolutely derail conflict resolution. The remedy? Take a simple pause before responding. Take a breath. Take a walk. The comma or pause is the most important part of speech; it’s the difference between “Let’s eat Grandma” and “Let’s eat, Grandma.”
Avoid a win-lose mentality
It is often said that the best resolutions are the ones in which no one walks away happy. In other words, there are very few situations in which one side is going to get everything that it wants. Bottom line: When resolving a conflict, be willing (and expect) to compromise.
Focus on solutions
Remember that there are multiple ways to solve a problem and that conflict resolution is bounded only by your creativity, so get original! Brainstorm, collaborate, choose to focus on solutions rather than problems and consider all of the alternatives.
Cheryl Herzfeld Salmon ’19 is a graduate of Rider's clinical mental health counseling program and works for Jewish Family and Children's Services of Southern New Jersey. Prior to her career in counseling, she worked as an attorney since 1999, specializing in civil and commercial litigation and family law.