Book Summary – Conflict Management


My bullet-summary of Ken Cooper – Conflict Management [1987]

  1. Prevent (2 people are needed for a conflict, don’t be 1 of them!).
  2. Handle in case I can’t prevent.
  • Prevent. The worst punishment I can give is IGNORING someone –> recognition (that’s why kids misbehave: they prefer punishment to being ignored). You can give recognition:
  1. of habits (I do it as a habit – not very powerful) – e.g. “hi, how are you?”;
  2. of performance – e.g. “good job with …”;
  3. of personality/character (the best one: I appreciate you as a person, because you are a person): “I’m glad you exist, I’m glad you’re my son/wife…”.
  • Don’t have negativism in my life! See only the positive (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil). And give away many positive feedbacks to others (e.g. if someone does a bad job: “nice try!”).
  • Give recognition to others, to minimize conflict, especially unexpected recognition (“I love you!”), everyday to everybody “you’ve been doing a great job!”
  • Ask myself, at the end of the day:
  1. “what have I done today to make someone (anyone) want to see me again tomorrow?” What good have I done today? –> take positive action.
  2. “what have I seen done today that I wanna see done tomorrow?” –> recognize it & compliment others!
  • Let people know when they’ve done a good thing, and when they’ve done a bad thing tell them “nice try” and how to fix it.
  • If someone is upset: look past the words in a conflict, to see what’s really upsetting him, what’s the major problem behind?
  • In those times the brain is not connected to ears and mouth. There’s no communication going on –> I need to calm the other down without fighting! –> Listen and empathize! Ask for more and remain calm. Don’t try to calm down the other, say: “tell me the details, what happened? Why?”
  • Get his emotions out of the way: emotion orgy. No resistance, ask for the details so afterwards the emotions go down (as I accept and listen to the complaint of the other to get it out of his system: this way the other starts to think again) and we can solve the real issue.
  • If others are mad at me: if I don’t get mad, there’s no conflict.
  • Everybody’s opinion is VALID (maybe I don’t agree with it, but still it’s valid (or they’d not have thought of it), be open to it, they’re providing me with feedback). ACKNOWLEDGE the other’s point of view and that I’ve listened to their criticism, REPEAT it back (“yes, you can be right, thanks for the feedback”). Empathize and then ask for details, the exact reason, proof of their criticism (go for facts).
  • If you want to criticize someone, say it as a feedback (deceive: “there’s something you can do to improve in …”), and not in public.
  • Dealing with nasty people: tell them they’re nasty! (as a quality) “but not as nasty as this other guy…” turn it around, deal with it, have fun!
  • CONFLICT MGMT: use ASSERTIVENESS (let other people know my expectations, boundaries, issues, and so on)! WATCH OUT: IT TAKES 2 TO MAKE A CONFLICT –> I AM RESPONSIBLE AS WELL! It’s never only one’s fault.
  • Some examples of assertive behaviour include:
    • Asking for help rather than pretending you are not confused
    • Expressing dissatisfaction in a healthy manner
    • Speaking up for yourself in groups of all sizes
    • Making good eye contact with others while you are speaking
    • Declining or saying “no” when appropriate
  • Assertiveness skills are all about expressing yourself and standing up for yourself in all kinds of situation.
  • When people attack you (apparently for no reason), generally they actually have another problem behind: be assertive!
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