Conscious Conflict Management

Dealing With
GAEL Secretaries Conference
September 13, 2007
Don Rooks
Georgia School Boards
How do We Deal With Conflict?
Watch Your Language!
More about this later.
Is Conflict Inevitable?
Conflict is Inevitable
We will face conflict everyday.
But, it can be managed or resolved
in ways that result in
positive outcomes.
Secretaries Know That The
Greatest Cause of Conflict Is…
Secretaries Know That
Conflict Can Produce Bad Results
• When there are threats and accusations
resulting in blame and anger
• When issues proliferate from one to many
• When specifics are replaced by general
issues – from a specific behavior to the
entire relationship
Conflict Can Produce Bad Results
• When concern for self turns into retaliation,
resulting in a desire to hurt another or to get
• When the number of parties increases,
resulting in factions or cliques
What Can We Learn About
Lessons from the Geese
Fact 1:
As each goose flaps its wings, it creates
an uplift for the birds that follow. By
flying in a v-formation, the whole flock
adds 71% greater flying range than if
each bird flew alone.
Lesson 1:
People who share a common direction
and a sense of community can get
where they are going much quicker and
easier because they are traveling on the
thrust of one another.
This, Then, is a Lesson on the
Importance of Harmony in Our
Fact 2:
When a goose falls out of formation, it
suddenly feels the drag and resistance of
flying alone. It quickly moves back into
formation, to take advantage of the lifting
power of the bird immediately in front of it.
Lesson 2:
If we have as much sense as a goose,
we stay in formation with those headed
where we want to go. We are willing to
accept their help and give our help to
This is a Lesson on the Importance
of Cooperation in Our
Fact 3:
When the lead goose tires, it rotates
back into the formation and another
goose flies to the point position.
Lesson 3:
It pays to take turns doing the hard
tasks and sharing leadership. As with
geese, people are interdependent on
each others’ skills, capabilities and
unique arrangements of gifts, talents
and resources.
This is a Lesson on the Importance
of Supporting One Another
Fact 4:
The geese flying in formation honk to
encourage those up front to keep up
their speed.
Lesson 4:
We need to make sure our honking is
encouraging. In groups where there is
encouragement, the production is much
greater. The power of encouragement is the
quality of honking we seek.
This Lesson Teaches Us That
Caring Is Important
Fact 5:
When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two
geese drop out of formation, and follow it down to
help and protect it. They stay with the fallen goose
until it dies or is able to fly again, and only then do
they launch out with another formation or catch up
with the flock.
Lesson 5:
If we have as much sense as geese, we
will stand by each other in difficult
times as well as when we are strong.
And finally, We Learn from the
Geese That Courage is Important
To Summarize:
It Is Important In Our Relationships
to Build Harmony, Cooperation,
Mutual Support, Caring for One
Another, And to Have the Courage
of Our Convictions
• Perception
• Conflict
• Dealing With Conflict
• Dealing With A Chronic Complainer
• Five strategies for dealing with
• Three types of needs that produce
• Three processes that are used
universally to resolve conflict.
Conflict is Inevitable
The issue is not whether we will
experience conflict - we will!
The issue is how we will respond to it.
We See Conflict Expressed Daily
in Newspaper Headlines
Recent Headlines
Auditors Question Spending by DA
School Brawl Ends in Stabbing
The Debate Over Illegal Immigration
Judge Demands Details on Jail Taser Use
Safety in the Skies Divides Air Traffic
Controllers, FAA
Secretaries Have Learned That:
We act in accordance with the truth
not as it is,
but as we believe it to be.
Lou Tice
“Investment in Excellence”
Secretaries Know This Important
Satisfied needs do not motivate.
It’s only the unsatisfied need that motivates.
Secretaries Know That the Way
People See Things – Their
Perception or Their Mental Image –
Is Very Important
Secretaries Want to Know:
How Does Perception Impact Conflict?
The Role of Perception
in Conflict
Many times there is no problem.
Big conflicts often are based on
no problem at all; because people get
upset based on their own perception
(mental image)
of reality.
Secretaries Know That:
Perceptions determine emotions (feelings)
Emotions determine behaviors
Behaviors determine outcomes
Secretaries Want to Know: What
Things Influence Our Perception?
• Our Experience
• Our Goals
• Our Values
Secretaries Know That There Are
Three Possible Ways to
Perceive Reality
• How I see things - based on my own
experience, goals and values
• How you see things - based on your
experience, goals and values
• How things really are - the best chance of
success in problem solving
Secretaries Now Know the
Our perception of reality
influences our responses
even if we know we do not have
all of the information
about what actually occurred.
Secretaries Want to Know –
What Stimulates Conflict?
The Belief (which may not be true) that
“If you get what you want,
I can’t get what I want.”
Actually, a collision of behaviors:
One or both parties interfere
with the goals of the other.
Three Kinds of Needs: The
Sources of All Conflict
• Resources Needs not enough
• Psychological Needs –
to be somebody; to win; self-esteem
• Needs Based on Values Beliefs people hold most dear
Secretaries Want to Know: What
Can Cause Conflict to Escalate?
• Accusations and threats.
• Moving from a single issue to multiple
• Generalizing from the specific problem
to the entire relationship.
Actions that May Escalate Conflict
• Turning feelings into hate.
• Wasting energy on getting even.
Actions that May Escalate Conflict
• Turning feelings into hate.
• Wasting energy on getting even.
• Enlisting others to help fight the battle.
The Conflict Escalator
Rooks Educational Services
Secretaries Know That The Greatest
Conflict Resolution Skill Is –
To Be a Good Listener,
We Should:
Seek first to understand,
then to be understood.
Steven Covey
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
Secretaries Know That There Are
Two Powerful Messages We
Send When We Listen to Others
1. You are Valued.
2. You are Understood.
Secretaries Also Know That There
Are Two Reasons We Listen
1. To Respond.
2. To Understand.
Secretaries Know That All Listening
Is Not Equal: There Are Five Levels
of Listening
How Can Secretaries Become Better
• Practice Rapid Repeat
• Put other thoughts out of your mind
• Don’t talk too much
• Put yourself in the other person’s shoes
• Face the person, lean slightly forward,
and make eye contact
Secretaries Know That
Communication Means
Shared Understanding
But Secretaries Also Know That
There Are Barriers to
There Are Only Three Ways to
Resolve Conflict
• Negotiation – Discussion without a third
• Mediation - Includes a neutral third party
who cannot make a binding decision
• Arbitration - Includes a third party who can
make a decision binding on both parties
Secretaries Follow the Rules for
Managing Conflict
1. They identify the problem.
2. They focus on the problem.
3. They attack the problem, not the person.
4. They listen with an open mind.
Avoid These Fouls to
Manage Conflict Well
(Watch Your Language!)
• Blaming, threats, name calling.
• Bossing.
• Making excuses.
• Not listening.
• Getting even.
How Does The Golden Rule Fit In?
What Is It?
Does following it build good
chemistry in relationships?
Five Tips To Build Chemistry
Instead Of Conflict
Watch Your Language!
Five Tips To Build Chemistry
Instead Of Conflict
Live by the Platinum Rule
The Platinum Rule
Do unto others
the way they want to be done unto.
Tony Allesandra
“The Platinum Rule”
Insight, No. 165, p.20
Five Tips To Build Chemistry
Instead Of Conflict
• Watch Your Language
• Live by the Platinum Rule
• Recognize that conflict is inevitable, and develop
your own strategies for dealing with it
• Become a good listener (not a pretender)
• Stay calm and think things through
Before Conflict Is Resolved:
Four Preconditions for Reaching
Conflict Resolution Must Exist
1. A concern for mutual gain
– Knowledge that helping you meet your
needs can help me meet my needs
2. Flexible on solutions; firm on interests
– Willing to negotiate to find solutions that
satisfy both parties’ needs
Four Preconditions for Reaching
Conflict Resolution
3. Creativity
– Develop a Plan B
– Be willing to brainstorm solutions
4. Separation of people from the problem
– Be soft on people
– Be hard on the problem
Secretaries Know What They
Can Do To
Manage Conflict
• Have patience.
• Stay calm. Control your temper.
• Practice Good listening skills.
Secretaries Know What They
Can Do To
Manage Conflict
• Ask good questions.
• Think things through.
• Ask the key question: What can I do
to resolve the problem?
Five Strategies Secretaries Can
Use To Manage Conflict
1. Yield
Unilaterally give in to the other person.
2. Withdraw
Abandon the conflict.
3. Inaction
Procrastinate (believe the problem will solve
itself or deny there is a problem)
Five Strategies for
Managing Conflict
4. Contend
“Only one of us will win, and it’s going to be me!”
5. Problem Solve
Get to a win-win solution in which both parties
believe they have won.
Helga Rhode, Psy. D.
“Dealing with Conflict & Communication”
Helpful Tips
Secretaries May Use When The
Contend Strategy Is Used
• Discuss the present and future; don’t place
blame for past wrongdoing
• Allow the other person to state their point of
view without interrupting
• Express your feelings rather than dramatize
How Can Secretaries Deal With
The Chronic Complainer?
Understand Their Motive
• They want someone else to solve their
• Complaints are defense mechanisms
against self-blame.
How Do Secretaries Describe the
Chronic Complainer?
• They feel powerless to deal with problems they
know about - but you can, so it’s your problem.
• They make accusations.
• They have a strong sense of what ought to be.
• To themselves, they are morally perfect.
Coping Skills Secretaries Can Use
With Chronic Complainers
• Listen attentively, but don’t fall into the trap of
• Ask questions: Have them check out facts for
• Ask them what they intend to do; help them
stay in a problem solving mode.
Coping Skills Secretaries Can Use
With Chronic Complainers
• If they complain about a third party, ask them
if they’ve discussed the problem with that
party. Suggest they meet. Ask if you can tell
the third party what they said.
• Never accuse a complainer of complaining.
Coping Skills Secretaries Can Use
With Chronic Complainers
• Ask questions that don’t challenge their ideas;
this helps them rethink those ideas.
• Ask questions that require them to review their
plans and review their consequences - then
praise their knowledge.
Dealing With
GAEL Secretaries Conference
September 13, 2007
Don Rooks
Georgia School Boards

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