One of the common difficulties in conflict resolution is for work to take place at the wrong level. Attempting to resolve conflict at the positional level is fraught with difficulties. Two people with opposing positions will usually only confront each other and push each other further away. I commonly ask individuals or groups to actively lay down their positions (better without even declaring up front), so that we can move the discussion to the deeper level of needs, interests, values, experiences, beliefs and assumptions. This is a much better space for constructive conversation. Mutual understanding of each other’s rather complex, and not always consistent, cluster of needs, values and interests goes a long way to assisting healthy resolution.
If you are in a conflict… ask four groups of questions.
1) How deeply am I in touch with my actual needs? What are my values here? What am I assuming? What are my interests and concerns?
2) What do I need the other person to know and understand about me, my history, my needs and my concerns?
3) What do I really understand of the other’s needs, interests, history, concerns and values? Can I clearly articulate these?
4) What might I be willing to offer so that some of their needs or concerns could be met and remain consistent with mine at the same time?