8-Step Conflict Resolution Process


Step One:

Deal effectively with Anger

  • You can’t negotiate a good agreement if you and /or the other person are too angry to think straight or if you don’t acknowledge your feelings.


Step Two:

Do Your Homework (think before you approach)

  • How does this conflict affect each of you?
  • What interests or values are at stake here for each of us?
  • What prejudices or assumptions do we each have about the other?
  • What approach or style would be best here (avoid, complete, collaborate, etc.)?
  • If I want to collaborate, what would be the right time and place to initiate that?


Step Three:

Set a Positive Tone

  • Invite the other person to negotiate. (Could we talk?”)
  • State positive intentions. (I’d like to make things better between us?)
  • Acknowledge and validate the other person. (I can see this is difficult for you, too. Thank you for working with me on this.)


Step Four:

Use Ground Rules (they may be stated or unstated)

  • One person talk at a time.
  • Work to improve the situation.
  • Stay calm.


Step Five:

Discuss and Define the Problem

  • One at a time, each person shares issues and feelings.
  • Use effective listening and speaking techniques.
  • Identify interests and needs.
  • If necessary, discuss assumptions, suspicions, and values.
  • Summarize new understandings.


Step Six:

Brainstorming Possible Solutions

  • Each person contributes ideas to satisfy interests and needs.
  • Don’t criticize or evaluate ideas yet.
  • Be creative.
  • Use “I can…” or “We could…” rather than “You should…” or “You’d better…”


Step Seven:

Evaluate and Choose Solutions

Solutions should be:

  • mutually agreeable
  • realistic
  • specific
  • balanced

Solutions should address the main interest of both parties.

Step Eight:

Follow Up With One Another

  • Check back with each other at an agreed time and date.
  • If the agreement isn’t working, use the same process to revise it.