Coexistence 202: Conflicts

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Coexistence 201: Lying

A confict is a communicated struggle between two or more people who see a difference of views, interests or goals

  • Most conflicts connect back to some sort of psychological or physical need
  • Conflict is not always fighting
    • Fights break out from conflicts because of immature and reactive approaches to conflict
  • Conflict is natural and can be very beneficial
    • Everyone can gain an increased understanding of one another
    • Groups can get along better after a conflict
    • Everyone can gain improved self-awareness from a good conflict
    • This can only happen when both sides are willing to change or compromise
  • Good conflict happens when there is a sabotaging of someone’s trust to the limited extent that they still can trust you
    • There are ways to build up rapport with others to ensure good conflict
      • Understanding them
        • This is key to everything else
        • Your perception of a deposit might not be theirs
        • Our gut tendency is project out of our own autobiographies what we think others want/need
      • Attend to the little things
        • Contrary to what it seems, people are extremely sensitive to rejection and negativity
      • Keep commitments
        • Keep promises or be sure to explain the situation very thoroughly
      • Clarify expectations
        • Sometimes it takes great courage to address unspoken concerns
      • Show personal integrity
        • Personal integrity is the basis of many desires
        • Integrity includes but goes beyond honesty
          • Honesty is conforming words to reality while integrity is conforming reality with words
        • Gossiping about others may appear to build trust through secrets but is actually diminishing how they see your ability keep secrets
      • Apologize sincerely when you hurt them in any way
        • Don’t sidestep the matter
          • “I was wrong.
          • “That was unkind of me.”
          • “I showed you no respect.”
          • “I gave you no dignity and I am deeply sorry.”
        • It takes a lot of character strength to apologize quickly and out of one’s heart rather than from pity
          • Apologizing needs internal security because it makes you vulnerable from doing it
  • Every conflict goes through stages
    1. Disagreement about something that at least one person finds important
    2. Escalation into something that asks for action to be taken
    3. Negotiation of the conflict, where everyone brings out their perceived views
    4. Resolution of the conflict or bringing up additional conflicts
      • A rebellious attitude means that someone feels like building constant conflict around them, and it requires a large amount of devoted love from others to break that in them
  • There are a few very specific innocent reasons most conflicts will happen
    • Several people have different definitions for the exact same word or phrase
    • Answers to problems that are different are construed as backwards or incomplete
    • Expectations about others’ behavior was false, and it’s assumed it was malicious

Being direct and forward risks conflict more, but it also allows for open dialogue

  • The ability to “talk straight” while maintaining tactfulness is its own social skill
    • This is all about your ability to achieve private victory over your emotions
  • Pay attention to the power dynamic
    • Overpowering – concerned with being the most powerful person in the conflict
      • Control and dominance over others with intensity and manipulation
        • Ignores boundaries and limits
        • Only acknowledges personal understanding of reality
        • Countering, blocking and diverting any perceived opposition
        • Subtly or directly blaming, judging and criticizing
      • General indifference to others with nobody allowed to exert their own power
        • Unreasonable demands with a lack of warmth or feeling when communicating
        • Unwillingness to hear others’ feelings or thoughts
        • Witty sarcasm or silently withholding
    • Passive Power – concerned with being liked by everyone
      • Never asking for demands directly
      • Avoids any confrontation, and makes demands that are inadequate for personal gain
      • Typically unwilling to bargain for what they want
      • Uses modifiers to lessen the impact of statements (sorry, I just…, I mean…)
    • Personal Power – belief in mutual benefit and coexistence
      • Promotes growth and well-being of everyone
      • Focused on what can be changed and what everyone really needs
      • Willing to take risks to gain from decisions due to plenty of self-respect

There are a few major conflict management styles

  • Which style to use depends on the relationship, situation, people involved and your goals
    • This conflict isn’t just with others, this is how we manage conflict inside ourselves
  • There are many varieties of styles, but they all lead to a few end results
    • Win – Lose
      • The person is courageous enough to talk about things, but doesn’t consider others
      • This comes from an authoritarian mentality, where it’s all or nothing for one individual
        • Most traditional leadership roles operate in this capacity
        • At its farthest extreme, some people literally don’t think about the losses of others
      • The person will push their own point of view without regarding the other person
        • People who use this regularly are accustomed to delivering all-or-nothing ultimatums
        • It can be aggressive in a direct way or passive-aggressive, but it destroys relationships when taken to an extreme or used frequently
    • Lose – Win
      • The person isn’t courageous enough to talk about things, but is considering others at the same time
      • Accommodation or submission is when someone is giving in to the other person’s wishes
      • This is done when people feel that somehow their loss is better in the long-term
    • Lose – Lose
      • The person isn’t courageous enough to talk about things, and doesn’t care about others either
      • Avoidance is the most common form of this, where someone says nothing and doesn’t talk about it
        • Anyone afraid of a conflict does this
      • A less common form of this is when two Win – Lose people get together and refuse to change
    • Win – Win
      • The person is courageous enough to talk about things and also considers others as well
      • Constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions, and typically tries to find a “third alternative”
        • This requires both sides to be open-minded to possibilities that haven’t been talked about yet
      • This belief is fueled by a belief that there are enough of whatever is scarce for everyone
      • Most success in this is based on effectiveness working with Win – Lose
    • Win – Win or No Deal
      • This takes Win – Win and focuses on competitively winning mutually, with any other varieties being an agreement to disagree agreeably
    • Partial Win – Partial Lose
      • This is used when there’s a belief that Win – Win is impossible
      • When a mediator is asked to resolve the problem, this is usually the result

Prepare for your conflict

  1. Walk into a conflict prepared for the worst
    • By not preparing, you give them the opportunity to prepare more than you
    • You must know what you want, what you don’t want and what they likely want or don’t want
      • Rate your feelings about desires on a 1-10 number scale to aid your preparation
        • Rank them from high to low priority, and be ready to sacrifice the lowest-priority items to get what you want most
      • Research and do homework on them to confirm their needs and wants
    • Any negotiation should protect you against an agreement that you should reject
    • Prepare a BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement), or a red line that will not be crossed
      • Make the most of your assets, the better your BATNA the greater your power
      • Look at the possible things that actually are negotiable that you don’t care about
    • Don’t be afraid of offending, since Win – Win isn’t guaranteed
      • You’re walking into a conflict because you want change to happen, and often change is intrinsically offensive
      • If you care too much about others, your own interests will become too low a priority
  2. Clarify expectations walking into the conflict
    • Desired results about what will happen
    • Guidelines about what parameters the desired results are to be accomplished within
    • Identified human, financial, technical and organizational resources available to help accomplish the desired results
    • Standards of good performance and a set time of evaluating the quality of the desired results
    • The natural and logical good and bad consequences of what will happen as a result of the other party’s decision
      • This should also include the organizational consequences on top of personal consequences
  3. You need to be hard on the problem and soft on the person
    • Be a great listener
      • It’s sometimes more offensive to misunderstand someone than it is to not listen to them
      • Think before reacting
        • Many things worded as attacks are usually not meant in that way
        • Resist the urge to attack back at what you see as an offense
    • Good relationships must be a priority or you will not be seeking Win – Win
      • Talk to the other person’s “best self”
      • Assume useful dialogue is possible, even when it seems unlikely
      • The point is to find out what’s happening, not whose fault it is
    • Everyone has something to gain from a conflict, but they might not know it
    • Many people are used to very dysfunctional environments, and some people will have a hard time with fair discussion
    • As much as you can, keep building the relationship with the people you have conflicts with
    • We all have conditioned responses, and it requires love to not tread on the “click-whirr” reactions of others
    • Use “I” and “We” messages more than “You” or “They” messages
      • Be aware of a Perfection mentality (this must be perfect) vs. a Discovery mentality (what are the possibilities?)
        • Perfection is wired to set up Winners and Losers
        • Discovery is built to set up Winners and Learners
    • Pay attention to how you are behaving
      • Most people are unaware of how they are coming across when they are upset
        • There are some behaviors that are guaranteed to make the situation worse and are very easy to fall into if you come from a dysfunctional background
          • Escalation – increasing negativity back and forth
            • Soften your tone
            • Acknowledge their point of view
          • Invalidation – painful insults of the other
            • Accept their feelings as fully valid
            • Respect their feelings and concerns, even if you don’t agree with them
          • Negative Interpretations – making a false perception of others’ motives
            • Reconsider what you think about their motives
            • Push yourself to look for evidence to the contrary
          • Withdrawal & Avoidance – unwilling to get into or stay with important discussions
            • Realize you’re not independent of one another
            • Communicate the need for space and clarify when you want to discuss the matter again
    • If, for whatever reason, you are making things worse, stop trying to press it
      • The argument has already been lost if you’re yelling
      • Be ready to walk away, whether it’s temporary to cool down or a permanent non-resolution
      • Disagreements are always connected to feelings, so pressing your case won’t prove something to someone
      • Sometimes everyone needs to calm down before thoughts can be expressed
  4. If they won’t negotiate in any way
    • Use principled negotiation to encourage them to do the same
      1. See the problem from the other point of view
      2. Identify the key issues and concerns (not people) involved
      3. Determine what results constitute a fully acceptable solution
      4. Identify possible new options to achieve these results
      5. If they keep attacking to try to take control, refuse to retaliate and then redirect their attacks on the problem
    • Resort to a third party with mediation (helping negotiate) or arbitration (making decisions)
      • Negotiation with a third party will either be mediation or arbitration
        • A mediator is a completely neutral party and is simply there to help both sides come to a shared agreement
        • An arbitrator is an appointed decision-maker that the party with more power will use
    • Don’t try to force a negotiation if they don’t want a resolution, start considering your BATNA instead

There are many dirty tactics that are used in negotiation

  • Keep the right philosophy when in a conflict with a disagreeable person
    1. You can’t change anyone except yourself and can only influence them if they want you to, and no reality can be proven to someone that doesn’t want to believe it
    2. We are all a tiny bit delusional and close-minded, though we hate to admit it
    3. Try not to overstep your authority, since the person will likely cross paths in the future with very powerful and far more vicious parties
  • Graham’s disagreement hierarchy demonstrates what a disagreement will be focused on
    1. Refuting the central point(s) the other person shared
    2. Pointing out the error of the other person by quoting them
    3. Contradicting the other person and then backing it up with evidence or reasoning
    4. Contradicting the other person without backing it up sufficiently
    5. Criticizing the tone of that person without addressing their points at all
    6. Attacking the characteristics or authority of the person without addressing the points at all
    7. Calling them names or using debasing insults without presenting any argument back
  • There are a few immoral ways to negotiate
    • Lies to divert or confuse the truth
    • Psychological abuse to make you give in
    • Pressure tactics to force you to make a mistake
    • Pretending to not understand to force the other person to confess something or pity them
  • Do not do the following when triggered by their tactics
    • Submit to the tactic, it will feel right at the moment but will ruin your chances at effectively gaining what you want
    • Try to fix their behavior
    • Spend any time alone with them
    • Reveal your weaknesses or give them an opportunity to learn about you
  • There are clear signs the person is completely amoral and simply want to take advantage of you
    • Speaking in a condescending or minimizing tone
    • They play the victim though they have certain advantages
    • Their mood will rapidly shift with the intent to control the dynamic
    • Complete unwillingness to own up to a mistake, or willing to admit to a mistake if the other one concedes
    • Blames you for their own worst qualities
  • If you know they will use underhanded tactics
    1. Recognize the trick being played
      • Only observe it in order to not be drawn in by it
      • Ignore the behavior and carry on without it affecting your train of conversation
    2. Draw attention to the trick being played if they won’t stop it
    3. Negotiate about the negotiation itself (i.e. about the rules for the negotiation to be conducted)

How to make a Win-Win resolution with principled negotiation

  1. Make a date
    • Give enough time for you to prepare and ask counsel from others
    • Make sure the timing is not obstructed by other obligations
    • Set the location in a “neutral zone”
      • Avoid using arbitrage disguised as mediation, since it gives them an upper hand
    • Start off the engagement on a positive note
  2. Insist on using objective criteria
    • Have fair standards
    • Set out the “facts” and “givens”, realities and things that cannot be altered
      • Differentiate between evaluation and observation
    • Accept responsibility for your portion of the conflict
      • Acknowledge the conflict to the people involved
      • It doesn’t help to rant about the situation in general
    • Suspend your own judgments and needs in order to be fair
  3. Separate the person from the problem
    • Clarify both sides’ perceptions and needs
      • Differentiate needs, interests and strategies
        • Needs – what someone has to have, wants are usually extensions of needs
        • Interests – what people need to get in order to fulfill a need
        • Strategies – how people carry out the fulfillment of their interests
    • Recognize and legitimize everyone’s emotions
      • They are best seen as simply signals in response to needs being fulfilled or obstructed
      • Differentiate between acknowledgement and agreement
    • Communicate clearly and intentionally
  4. Focus on interests of people involved, not positions people are coming from
    • The interests of everyone need to be clarified
      • Goals – what do each of the parties want to achieve?
      • Trades – what are each of the parties willing to sacrifice for their goals?
      • Alternatives – what will each of the parties give instead of their traded items or what we they do if they can’t get what they want?
      • Relationships – what is the history of the involved relationships and how can it impact things?
      • Expected Outcomes – what do both sides see will happen with the given situation?
      • Consequences – what do both sides see will happen as a result of various decisions?
      • Power – who has the power in the relationship from resources, and who has the most to lose?
      • Possible Solutions – given everything, what possible compromises can there be?
    • Ask questions to explore interests and understand the others’ point of view
      • Test your assumptions by asking, and relinquish them if they prove to be false
    • Be open about your own interests and feelings, within the context of how much you can trust them
      • By sharing information, you provide reason for them to trust you and come to an agreement, but it also risks them using the information against you
    • State the consequences of various options
      • If you are confident about the situation, make the first offer to set the standard, but keep the offer flexible to allow for a counter-offer
      • If you decide to give an ultimatum, you have to stand by that ultimatum, and the negotiation isn’t going anywhere else
  5. Create options for mutual gain and negotiate a solution
    • Brainstorm
      • Make the assumption that undiscovered options exist
      • Broaden the options, be willing to change if need be
      • Be curious in difficult situations
        • In positions of conflict, our instinct is to abandon curiosity, which dehumanizes others
      • Look towards the future, not the past, to find answers
    • Look for a mutual gain (the “Third Option”)
    • Make their decision easy to choose
    • Be explicit about agreements
  6. Follow up on the solution
    • If the other person is non-compliant to their side of the agreement, revisit the issue
    • Look at the long-term time frame, and be gracious in their delivery of the results
    • Be explicit when the situation changes
    • Always expect and plan for future conflict
Next: Coexistence 203: How To Stay Legally Safe