From Dr. Jane's Notebook

A win-win solution to conflict management

Conflict management is a problem for people of all ages and in all settings. Children get into conflicts at school, adults get into conflicts on the job, family members develop chronic patterns of conflict, and road rage gets worse every day. While it seems easy to adopt a no-tolerance policy against violence, these policies usually fail to teach alternative ways to resolve interpersonal problems. As a result, small conflicts frequently escalate into larger conflicts, and soon, the potential for verbal and/or physical violence is increased.

As we enter into this new year, I would like to propose a set of guidelines for conflict management which may be applicable in these settings.

Most of us have heard the expression that nature abhors a vacuum. Applied here, we recognize that conflicts between people are inevitable, and that it is difficult, if not impossible to deny our feelings of anger, hurt or indignation. If we truly want to reduce the amount of violence in our schools, jobs, families and society, we must institute better ways to resolve conflicts through communication. For starters, I recommend the following variation on the Golden Rule: Speak unto others as you would have them speak unto you. As long as we believe that it is okay to treat other people without consideration, we will contribute to a world of conflict and violence. In turn, as our children watch and learn from the behavior of adults, the world they build will become either more civilized or more violent.

©Copyright, 2002, Jane R. Rosen-Grandon. All rights reserved.

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