Difficult Conversations in Conflict Management

DifficultConversations in Conflict Management

DifficultConversations in Conflict Management

Inorder to cope up with a difficult conversation, one has to keep inmind several factors which in a way makes it a little, moreefficient. First, an objective for the issue has to be put in placeafter a citing of the issue has been done. The participants of theconversation have to be indicated. If there is the need for a thirdparty participation is needed. As such, it is an implication ofwhether there should be a witness to the conversation or should therebe no witness. In addition, evidence ids needed for any otherconversation this is such that there should exist informationgathering about the situation at hand. The people that are involvedin the conversation should be made aware of any meeting prior to thespecific date. There should not be an abrupt discussion without thenotice. This hastiness can lead to panics by the participatingparties. A good location of a meeting point should be set, a neutralground should be the best location. This discussion will also help inthe confidentiality of the participating groups and hence facilitatebetter information conveyable. A hint on the leadership skills shouldbe practiced such that there is the aspect of anger management and awillingness to negotiate and compromise.

Onthe actual event, there should be the practice of the expressedappreciation for the attendance of the individuals. Positive believeshould also be part of every activity undertaken, there should be theaspect that there should be a solution for what is being discussed.Emotions should not take control of every situation that youundertake. This situation should not imply that emotions should notbe part of the conversation, but there should an acknowledgment ofemotions. If at all you have requested a conversation, there is nochance to allow anyone to refuse it and that can approve of defeat.An initiation of a necessary conversation should be done and if onlythere is the aspect of the evidence and all necessary information.

ConflictSummary: Military Threats to Community Resources

Militaryoperations have always been subject to scrutiny by the society andparticularly the community surrounding our test sites. As thedirector of the field research and weapon assessment department forthe regional army, I had the task of resolving this crunch and makingthe community understand our operations objectives. The aim ofmilitary field research operations is to test different weapons andtheir workability, as well as conduct refresher training for ourmilitary men. In doing so, the environment of these operations isusually set to be close to a battlefield for optimal results.However, we also ensure that these operations do not interfereadversely with the surrounding environment and thus, we employconservation measures to safeguard communities around the testfields. The communities in the said areas however felt insecure andthat our operations were a threat to their resources. In order toresolve this standout, I entered into a conflict resolutionmanagement with the community leaders and interested parties.

Iintended to explain to the community that our operations were meantfor no harm to their resources. Through the provision of knowledge tothem, expectations were they would understand that we were committedto safeguarding and conserving these resources surrounding our areasof operations. The outcome of the community’s demands, whichincluded the closure of our sites, would have had adverse effects onthe military operations in our department. The lead counsel of thecommunity expected to convince our department that our operationswere harmful to the environment, and they were a risk to theresources of the community.

Understandingthe intentions of the other party is difficult ion any difficultconversation and it was no different in this one. My feelings of ouroperations being undermined by the people we protect affected myunderstanding as to the exact intentions of the community. We blamedeach other in our conflict, and this inhibited our ability tounderstand the cause of the problem (Stone, Patton &amp Heen, 1999).The fact that I thought and felt they were intending the worst forour operations barred me from getting to know the reality of thesituation. Their felt that our operations were being a disaster totheir livelihood and this in one way or the other also blinded theirjudgment to the fact that these operations had guidelines to protectthe community.

Infuture conversations, I would employ the techniques of conflictresolution by trying to understand why the other party interprets thesituation in the way they do. The ability to understand andacknowledge both my views and the other party’s view is beneficialto difficult conversation management. A conflicting party needs notto feel frustrated or disappointed as was the case in myconversation. The feeling that I was being patronized in theconversation blurred the understanding of the other party and madethem feel thwarted and irritated. One suggestion that would apply tothis episode is the appliance of role reversals. Using role reversaland adopting a disinterested perspective can help in creating athorough map of the contribution system (Stone, Patton &amp Heen,1999). In order to accommodate feelings into a difficult conversationwithout letting them take control of would be to acknowledge theirexistence.

Theconflict on community resource being threatened by our operationsaffected my personal sense of what our operations were and this mademe feel incompetent in terms of the community affairs. This conflictmade me question my good deeds to these communities in their livesthat my department had been affording them. These effects took awaymy sense of being superior and beneficial to the society. Accordingto Stone et al. (1999), I had subjected my identity to thevulnerability of all or nothing syndrome, which made me lose myself-image to the feedback put forth in the conversation. Theysuggested that this caused an unstable identity. This loss ofidentity was probably due to my tendency of declining the otherparty`s intentions.

Inorder to regain the initial state of personality that I had beforethe star of the conversation, I needed to ground this unstable,newly-acquired identity that prohibited my true feeling ofself-image. This regains would have involved the ability to identifythe areas that put my identity at risk as well as those trends towhich it is more vulnerable. I also needed to accept that I amvulnerable to making mistakes of any manner. Understanding that myintentions were as complex to the other party’s as theirs were tome would also have eased the situation and make my identity morestable throughout the conversation. The fact that I induced myfeeling into the conversation also made the other party feel thattheir identity was compromised. This conflict made the community feelnot honored since they accommodated the operations we were performingbut felt insecure at the same time. Their lead counsel feltincompetent and less likable when I declined their suggestions on theclosure of the field site. To overcome this, he needed to beconsiderate of what the situation was and what we both hoped foroutcomes. This consideration would thus help in understanding thatthe situation would permit if no resolution were concluded. Theseissues would have thus enabled us to deal with our compromisedidentities in a better way.


Thesituation above should have a professional approach towards giving ita better solution. Taking the case of the militants and the civiliansas discussed above, there are important stages that have to befollowed to produce a tentative solution to the situation at hand.First, there should be an understanding of the problems of bothsides. That is, if there are problems concerning the militants notdoing their activities on the civilians ground and vice versa. Thisproblem will help in the coming up with a better solution. In thecase discussed above, the military test sites as I have discussed hasto be explained to the civilians its importance that it brings tothem and that they should not see it as a disadvantage rather anadvantage. The consequences of the problem must be stated in a waythat a conclusion is made, and clear consciences come up. All thestandards have to be set, those that exist between the militants andthe civilians. In order to a success in the conversation, thereshould be the application of active listening. An interest in what issaid by all the parties, i.e. the militant and the civilians shouldbe put in place, this will encourage a success in the conflictresolution in that a fast decision can be made. A series ofsummarizing and validation of the both sides arguments should followto make sure there is a satisfaction of the two and that there is noaspect of favors experienced.

Asthe director of field matters, I should use tentatively give aconcern about the matter and have my views. The views will help inthe reaching of a final decision between the two parties. Looking forsolutions is more appropriate, own views are important such that acertain conclusion is created. Looking for a win-win situation in adifficult conversation is important such that there is neutrality.Positions should not be defended in this stage. Defending a positionwill mean having a heavier support in another side than the other.Accountability for the decisions made is important. If an agreementis made, datelines of what should be done have to be set. Thisprocess will help in giving time to both parties to the agreement ofthe matters. Finally, a follow-up should be done. This process willalso give feedback on the outcomes and the reactions of the involvedparties. The outcome of the process would give the parties duty oftaking responsibility.


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Lefevre,E., Colot, O., &amp Vannoorenberghe, P. (2002). Belief functioncombination and conflict management. Informationfusion,3(2), 149-162.

Giles,W. M., &amp Hyndman, J. (Eds.). (2004). Sitesof violence: Gender and conflict zones.California, CA: Univ of California Press.