On Conflict Resolution – The Cost of Conflict


A review of an article (for my Masters program back in 2008). This stuff never gets old:

  • Grazier, Peter B., “Conflict”, El Network (December 1, 1997), URL (cited on 2008.04.15) http://www.teambuilding.com/articles

This article is about the shifting understanding of conflict resolution from the old paradigm to the newer paradigm. Conflict is defined as a struggle to resist or overcome; a contest of opposing forces. This conflict seems to be ever-present in our lives, and the possibility of conflict looms anytime two or more people convene.

Conflict arises from a multitude of sources that reflect our differences: personality, values, ideologies, religion, culture, race, and behavior. It also arises from simple misunderstandings. As the workplaces have expanded, the community in which people work has dramatically increased the number of human interactions where one’s opinions can be heard.

Grazier says that the reason that he thinks most people struggle with conflict resolution is that a persons past and present models of resolution are rooted in battles. He states this as the ‘current model.’ These battles result in a winner and a loser and the current society seems to place a high value on winning. Therefore, Grazier points out that we as people staunchly defend our position, no matter how shaky.

The Cost of Conflict

What people don’t often understand are the costs in conflict. These include: direct cost, productivity cost, continuity cost, and emotional cost. The direct cost is the dollar value. The productivity cost is the value of lost time; the cost of what those involved would otherwise be producing. The continuity cost is the eventual end of relationships that would have continued without the conflict. The emotional cost reflects the pain in focusing on, and being held hostage by our emotions.

What Grazier has created, with the help of another author Mr. Levine is a new way to do conflict resolution. The steps of this conflict resolution are as follows:

  1. Develop an attitude of resolution – must hold values that make up the attitude of resolution
  2. Tell your story – being understanding and being understood
  3. Listen for a preliminary vision of resolution – thinking about a resolution that honors all concerns in the situation
  4. Get current and complete – putting all cards on the table and to be very open and honest
  5. See a vision for the future: agreement in principle – reaching a general understanding of the resolution
  6. Craft the new agreement: Make the vision a reality – crafting a new agreement with specifics
  7. Resolution: When your agreement becomes a reality – moving forward after resolution

This new type of conflict resolution is a way of searching for the solution to a problem where all parties will come out winners in the end. This approach is a different approach than the culturally accepted one now, but the end result is much more beneficial for all.

4 Responses to “On Conflict Resolution – The Cost of Conflict”

  1. Ken 'classmaker' Ritchie
    April 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm #

    Timeless!!! Special thanks for listing the steps under the text “a new way to do conflict resolution.” That works for me. I will be recommending it to others as opportunities arise.

    Thanks again for the insight and such a helpful process!

    –Ken
    ;-)

    • peter
      April 13, 2012 at 8:33 am #

      This is deadly important to continually remind ourselves about. Thanks!

  2. Karol McCloskey
    April 24, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    As long as we are people, there will be disagreements. Kind of reminds me the old tale “walk a mile in another’s moccasins”… before defending “your” position. Not to say positive resolution is easy, it isn’t – but very possible. Generally if all parties work together, the group tends to become stronger and trust grows. Also new ideas seem to germinate from the arguments.

    Cheers!

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