This article is part of a series of 2. First part has a focus how important it is, in any conflictual situation, to identify the needs. Because, indeed, conflict is an UNMET need!
The first stage is about identifying needs.
If the listening phase does not lead to a resolution, it will be necessary to negotiate and problem solve. The listening is likely to identify a variety of unmet needs. List these and decide on one to work with, as it is unwise to work with several issues at once. If people don’t take time to explore needs they may deal with wants or symptoms instead of with the root cause. This is a form of patching things up and leads to continued frustration and the re-emergence of the conflict in the future.
List several ways to meet both sets of needs on the issue. Aim to get 5 to 10 alternatives. At this stage it is best not to criticise, judge or evaluate the suggestions … so no ‘yes, buts’. Encourage wacky or way out ideas, anything to keep the creativity flowing. Evaluation of these ideas will come in the decision making phase.
Beware of the quick fix
Decide a way forward
Look for what you have in common. Talk about what you agree about. Create ‘yeses’ rather than ‘yes buts’. Go through the list and mark anything that both people are open to. This will narrow the options. Discuss the plusses and the minuses of each remaining option. As you talk you are likely to have more choices than was originally thought.
Use currencies in which you both can trade i.e. a win for both of you. You may, in your give and take approach, offer things which are easy for you to give and easy for the other person. An ‘elegant’ currency is one which is low cost for one person and is of high value to another. Aim for minimal cost and maximum gain.
Agree a plan of action
It is best if this plan is written down and check whether both people understand and agree to it. who will do what … how and by when. Set a review date to see how it is working out. Being specific prevents confusion.
View objections as unfulfilled needs
Beware of the tit for tat scenario which only leads to stalemate and lose-lose. If you want the other to listen to you, to look for areas of agreement and to meet your needs, first listen to them, look for agreement and seek to meet their needs. While their behaviour is likely to follow on yours, there are no guarantees when it comes to people. But generally behaviour breeds behaviour.
Stay tuned. Part 2 of the article is coming soon and is to problem solve on ways both sets of needs can be met to achieve a win-win.