Conway Daily Sun
July 31, 2013
By Michael Kline
In our last article, we discussed conflict as a fact of life, but how it doesn’t need to be a “way of life”. Ironically, conflict is often exacerbated by our attempt to avoid conflict.
Conflict can be good when it produces gains, innovations and new ideas. Conflict can be good when it fosters unity and understanding and brings about behavior changes. When people address conflict, they talk about their interests and get to know each other better. Greater empathy and understanding occur; people learn that not only can diversity be handled, but can be interesting and productive.
Conflict is bad when it escalates, leads to hostility and fear, or is suppressed. Most of us are better at choosing either
the flight or fight response, either escalating the conflict or suppressing it. Neither choice is as productive as dealing with the conflict and turning it into a positive event it could be. In our Conflict Resolution seminar, we teach the
Dr. Crawford method of resolution, using the acronym L.E.A.P.
L.E.A.P. stands for Listen, Empathize, Ask them and Problem Solve.
1. Listen – When someone appears to be difficult, they are not just giving you information, they are giving you
the key to what they want/how to get their cooperation. Most difficult people appear difficult because they are stating their position, rather than their interests. You may need to ask good questions to illicit what they really want, in order to clarify their interests. Listen carefully, with intent to understand. Repeat back – paraphrase their interests to show your understanding. “What I hear you saying is…, did I get that right? Did I cover everything? Make sure you get confirmation that you understand their issues correctly.
2. Empathize - They are likely afraid we don’t understand how serious their problem is. Don’t tell them to
“calm down”, or that it’s “not a problem”, etc. Let them know you understand and can see their point of view. This is not the same as agreeing with them. You are only stating that you understand why they feel the way they do.
3. Ask them - for their ideas to solve the problem. Because they fear we don’t value their opinion. This also moves the problem from the past into the present and future, and the problem solving stage. People never argue with their own data. Asking for their ideas gets them thinking about how difficult they are being, and may actually provide good
4. Problem Solve – Only now are we ready to suggest solutions. Be sure to wait until you’ve done the listening, empathizing and asking before you problem solve. Now, thinking win/win, you take all the information and hints you collected during your first three steps, and you blend their concerns into your ideas and solutions. Remember, this is not about manipulating, but working with a high level of consideration for their interests, balanced with high courage for your own interests. This requires a positive, abundance mentality. People with a scarcity mentality will have
difficulty believing this is possible.
More often than not, most of our conflicts can be avoiding through better communication skills, and when they can’t be prevented, they can be handled more effectively and turned into a positive experience for
everyone involved. That is your mission, should you choose to accept it.
Michael Kline is a local retailer, success coach and trainer. He
may be reached through his website, www.klineseminars.com, or e-mail,