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News & Views

Lessons from the Managing Conflict Workshop

Two participants of a Chapel workshop in September, Indra Sikdar and Raji Gidda, share their experiences.


I attended a very interesting workshop by Sara Wilcox, pictured, regarding conflict management.

We started by defining what conflict is.

Conflict could take place due to time. For example, how much time do I need to devote to this person and their problems or issues.

A negative person may make it difficult for a positive person to remain in a positive frame of mind. That is why Winston Churchill had a notice in his war room saying “No negative talk.” To use a gardening analogy, it’s harder to plant “plants” but weeds (negative thoughts) appear without much effort.

A personal may have a different moral compass. For example, historically the character Robin Hood “robbed the rich to pay the poor”. But imagine living with someone who was light fingered and how that may affect our feeling of security?

We can easily offend someone’s cultural assumptions: I once called an Uncle by his first name as I thought we were quite good friends but in his mind, I was being disrespectful.

In a work relationship we might lose worker’s rights like flexitime that we have got used to – this could lead to conflict.

Some people have triggers and they may have a hissy fit for no apparent reason until we hear the background story. In one case I did not know the background of a white lady – whose relationship with her parents were severed because she was in a relationship with someone who was from a different ethnic background.

A conflict like anger can escalate like poison if not dealt with. It is suggested that we have a frank discussion with the person we are conflicting with. Otherwise, if the discussion is avoided the bane of contention remains.

Some felt it was easier to have a frank conversation with a person we did not know too well than with a family member who we had to meet more often.

In some cases humour or stories can be used to avoid finger pointing. Even if we don’t sympathise we can empathise with another person. We should avoid making assumptions – like once a cousin who became an architect was told “we don’t want Taj Mahal’s being built everywhere!”

We can use soft language and even show some vulnerability - as it is likely that this will be reciprocated and then we can try and find common ground - a win win situation.


Definition of Conflict -

‘Struggle or clash between opposing forces’

Definition of Resolution -

A firm decision to do or not do something with purpose.

The conflict resolution workshop held a discussion with participants sharing their experiences of dealing with conflict resolutions.

It was generally accepted that there are several types of conflicts and those involving relationships between family and partners are the most upsetting.

Some key points to hold onto during a conflict situation:

1. Be Calm - if needed take some time out before engaging with the other person.

2. Actively Listen and be Empathic towards the other person.

3. Recognise Triggers - fears and insecurities can create sudden volatility and irrationality.

4. Ask the other person what they Need for resolution. Agree on mutual outcomes or goals to move forward.

5. Avoid accusatory language. Use Softer language for example ‘ I would rather ‘.

6. Awareness of self and others perspectives.

7. Use a Mediator or counsellor.


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