Achieving Genuine Resolution

[From The Dynamics of Conflict, Bernard Mayer, 2012, pgs 126-135.]

Genuine resolution of complex conflicts require COGNITIVE, EMOTIONAL, and BEHAVIORAL resolution.

Cognitive Resolution

Disputants ultimately change their essential view of the people with whom they are in conflict, the nature of the conflict, or the issue itself. At that point, a long-lasting type of resolution is possible.

Emotional Resolution

“One of the best clues as to the degree of emotional resolution we experience in a conflict is the amount of emotional energy we continue to put into it. If we can continue to spend a great deal of time thinking about a conflict, cannot discuss it without considerable emotional intensity, or need significant amount of ongoing support to cope with the emotional aftermath, we have clearly not reached much resolution along this dimension.” To acquire emotional resolution, the goals are:

Address and affirm; make sure the parties feel accepted; maintain their dignity; respect their needs; encourage others to accept their feelings as valid; make sure they feel genuinely heard; they should be given a genuine choice about whether to move forward towards resolution.

This is a soft science. Even though disputants may experience a degree of emotional closure, a subsequent event or interaction can reawaken those strong feelings.

Behavioral Resolution

Behavioral resolution is essentially what people will or will not do and the agreement they make around this. Behavioral resolution has two aspects: discontinuing the conflict behavior and instituting actions that promote resolution. Basically, stop fighting AND implement a new way of interacting with one another.