This was the topic for the Forum that took place in Stellenbosch on 21 November. We had the privilege of listening to a great guest speaker and expert leader nationally and internationally on negotiation, mediation and conflict management.
The questions that were asked: how do we manage conflict?
Naturally/ instinctively we:
1. avoid it
2. then we confront
3. if confrontation does not work, we use the law
4. and finally, we problem-solve.
The challenge is to use problem-solving straight away! What stood out for me, was the fact that we tend to situations as “either/ or”, in other words, one has to be right and the other wrong. The challenge with collaboration is to dialogue with the other party. When in dialogue we start to understand the real/ underlying needs, rather than purely the disagreement. We learn about the difference between reacting and reflecting. Reacting is acting on impulse in the situations without asking questions. Reflecting is about asking questions first and trying to understand the actual situation and underlying issue. The challenge: we need to unlearn reactive behaviours!!
Thus collaboration is about standing next to the other, and looking at the issue together rather than standing opposite the other and seeing them as the problem. Quite a challenge!! However, imagine the difference we would see around us, in our homes, our places of work, our country -dare I say even our world! – have if we learnt to think before we react, try understand before we make a decision, listen before we speak…