This chapter introduces the reader to the ways in which we deal with conflict, and makes the point that for some, conflict is an opportunity, and for others, conflict is something to be avoided. If we as disputants have these differing views towards conflict, it may be difficult to begin to address the issue, as someone with high conflict avoidance and someone with low conflict avoidance will likely agitate each other in their handling methods, adding to the conflict. Accommodation, in which we simply suppress our own interests in order to settle a conflict, Competition, in which we see conflict as a win/lose proposition, compromise, in which we both give up something in order to reach an agreement, and collaboration, where we agree to work together to not only solve a problem, but improve the situation that resulted in the conflict, re each examples of the different ways in which we might react to a given conflict.
With all of this in mind, it gives one insight into some reasons why some conflcts seem doomed to stagnate and build, while others are resolved with very little effort at all. In later chapters we look at some environmental, cultural, and historical reasons why some conflicts are easier or harder to work though, but this chapter really looks at the personas of disputants and how a mediator’s awareness of these stances can help keep a dispute from becoming a roadblock.
Domenici, K., Domenici-Littlejohn, & Littlejohn, S. W. (2001). Mediation: Empowerment in Conflict Management, Second Edition. (2nd), 198. Waveland Press.
Personal experiential influence:
In my own conflicts in life, the contingencies of a particular conflict definitely shapes that way in which I react and deal with it. The importance with which I regard the outcome, the longevity of the outcome of the conflict, and the past relationships I’ve had with other disputants all shape whether I try to collaborate, avoid, accommodate or compete with the disputant.
For instance, we can take the same situation, let’s say where another person says something derogatory about my appearance, and depending on the other person, I will react either by remaining quiet (avoidance), discussing the reasons I look the way I do and how it relates to the way they look (collaborate), agree with them, and maybe add how my hair’s all messed up (accommodate), or tell them that I, at the very least, know how to pick out a good shirt (compete).