The #1 Reason Conflict Resolution Doesn’t work

I searched through several pages of conflict resolution strategies on the Internet. They all included useful ideas but none of them included the first and essential step. They included things like:

#1. Identify the problem

#2. Remain Calm

#3. Avoid using coercive language

#4. Focus on the problem not the individual

#5. Establish guidelines

#6. Don’t interrupt

The first step to conflict resolution isn’t identifying the problem. Focusing on the problem creates a negative environment.

Conflict resolution begins when everyone understands and agrees upon the end. The first question of conflict resolution is not, “What’s the problem?” The first question is, “What’s the solution?”

The solution is more important than the problem. Solutions define problems and uncover effective strategies by establishing positive outcomes. Furthermore, working toward agreed upon goals creates positive focus, gives context to remaining calm, and points combatants in the same direction.

You can begin the conflict resolution road map by establishing the destination. After identifying the destination, have all parties put themselves on the map in relation to the destination. Now it’s time to work on how-tos. Without a destination the trip may seem useful but it isn’t a solution it’s a band aid.

If you don’t like road maps here’s another illustration. Defining the preferred state identifies the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but it doesn’t identify the steps to get there. Let outcomes define direction.

Don’t jettison the good advice you’ve heard about conflict resolution. However, shift all the steps downward and create a new “step #1.”

#1. Define the solution


What’s your best conflict resolution tip? Do you have a conflict resolution story?


Leadership Freak

Dan Rockwell