The following is a guest blog post by Letha Townsend discussing effective mediation skills, including conflict resolution skills, which can be useful in a personal injury setting.
No matter how much you grow and learn, there will still be conflicts in your life. Effective conflict resolution skills will continue to benefit you throughout the years. Learn the steps necessary to work through conflicts, hone the skills, and put them to good use when the occasions arise. In cases of personal injury, conflict resolution can assist in saving time, money, and a long litigation process.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
Most conflicts don’t actually arise out of nothing. They build and brew, sometimes for an extended period of time. They have warning signs, and paying attention to what’s going on around you will allow you to see those signs and take action before things get out of hand. Working to resolve a conflict before it erupts into fighting is always wise.
If you are involved in an accident where personal injuries are sustained, you may not have a lot of time to pay attention to everything going on around you. Tempers can flare and the situation can erupt almost immediately. Therefore, being aware of your surroundings at all times will offer the best chance in case of an accident.
Less Talking and More Listening
You may be great at talking to explain how you are feeling, but it’s also important to listen to the other party. Use active listening skills to let the other person know that you have heard them and actually understand what they are saying. Restate, paraphrase, or summarize what was discussed, so the other party will recognize that you were actually listening to their grievance.
This is especially hard when one or both parties have been injured in some way. As easy as it is to place the blame, take a few deep breaths and listen to the other party. There are times when just listening and letting the ill-tempered party vent out their frustrations can lead to a resolution.
Collect the Necessary Information
This goes along with talking less and listening more. However, to gather the information you need, you might have to actually ask questions. Clarify any points you are confused about, and ask questions so that you fully understand what the situation is. Never settle for the old “if you don’t know what the problem is, then I’m not going to tell you.”
Forget the “You” Word
When you are trying to reach a resolution with another party, it’s vital that you use “I” statements. Talk about how you are feeling and focus on things you can change. It takes the sting out of the conversation and helps prevent it from becoming more confrontational than it needs to be.
As situations can quickly become volatile, you want to avoid placing blame. Often the resolution to a problem can be found easily by accepting the situation for what it is, rather than who caused it. This will help lead to effective resolution.
Flexibility is Important
When resolving a conflict, you must be flexible. This doesn’t just mean that you need to be flexible about a possible solution, but you also need to be willing to see the mistakes you have made. Acknowledge those mistakes and that you could have done better. Most importantly, be willing to work together on a solution.
Remain Calm and on Task
The biggest mistake you can make when trying to resolve a conflict is by losing your temper. By remaining calm you can control the situation, the other party, and the outcome with a clear mind. If you feel your temper rising, take a step back and calm yourself before engaging the other party.
With successful conflict resolution, everybody wins in some way. Even a person who was completely in the wrong can feel better, simply by knowing that they have been heard and their position was considered. In most conflicts, every party will get something they were hoping for, but they won’t usually get everything. It’s the compromise and flexibility that makes so many conflict resolutions successful.
All areas of your life will benefit when you possess great conflict resolution skills. Take the time to learn them and continue practicing them throughout your life. With every conflict, you will learn something and grow a little more.
Letha Townsend blogs about effective mediation skills, including conflict resolution. For those interested in learning more, several schools offer masters degrees in conflict resolution, including Abilene Christian University and Creighton University.