Increased tensional levels at intergroup, interpersonal, inter-organizational, and intercultural levels has intensified the need for understanding the aspect of conflict resolution. Many a researcher have studied conflict resolution using theoretical approaches and practical inquiry strategies, and thereafter coming up with appropriate strategies or models for addressing issues under conflict. According to Schelling (1980), the study of conscious, intelligent, or sophisticated behavior to unearth the rules for guiding the behavior amounts to strategy. As such, the process of resolving conflicts is largely dependent on the strategies employed in the conflict resolution process. Schelling further argues that strategies employed in conflict resolution processes do not necessarily involve the application of force but rather it involves the exploitation of potential force that can be applied to resolve a conflict. Vasquez and Valeriano (2008) argue that resolving conflicts among nations caused by territorial disputes is often followed by periods of peace and prosperity. Territorial disputes is a major cause of wars among nations and often accounts as a major motivate for war.
Fearon (1995) tries to explain the underlying causes of war from a rationalist perspective. In his study, he considers the costs of war and suffering inflicted to people and nation states. Therefore, he calls for need of studying particular ways to resolve conflicts. He argues that involving leaders who act in the best interests of their nations to examine the costs and benefits of going to war and in turn, come up with strategies aimed at resolving the conflicts. Fearon (1995) asserts that since fighting is risky and costly, there is need for negotiated agreements to prevent nations from going to war against each other1. Ramsbotham et al (2005: 2008) traces the origins of conflict resolution at the height of Cold War characterized by increased conflicts among super power nations. Because the prevalence of conflicts threatened human survival, the pioneers of conflict resolution drawn from different disciplines came together and saw the need for studying conflict from a general perspective and examining whether particular approaches can be applied to solve conflicts.
Conflict Resolver’s Handbook
As evidenced from the analysis of Literature above, it is emphatically crucial to develop strategies to be used on conflict negotiation due to the destructive and costly nature of conflicts. However, given the application of theories and models developed from past experiences, it becomes possible to create conflict resolution strategies. This paper presents strategies to be adopted in situations where a conflict arises.
Step 1-Accepting the Situation
Many a times, encountering conflicts is a part of nature because different individuals with diverse goals often face conflicting situations. Intense-personal animosities have also ensued from such situations and therefore, encountering conflicts should not be a major cause of worry to many individuals. For this reason, accepting conflicts as new ways of live and identification of conflicts should serve as a new way of confronting conflicts. Given that one has accepted the idea that conflicts often exist, it is also important to accept that it is possible to identify solutions that will help the process of solving and managing conflicts. While agreeing with the availability of a conflict might sound obvious to many a person, accepting the problems that require solutions will assist in finding mutually acceptable solutions to the conflict.
Step 2- Assessing the Nature of the conflict
Conflict assessment is the second step in achieving positive results when it comes to the process of resolving conflicts. The process of assessing the nature of conflicts will assist in defining the ideal strategies necessary to resolve the conflict. This is also ideal for assisting the resolver to take a stance towards the conflict. Taking a stance regarding the situation of the conflict can take a variety of patterns such as competing against the conflict, collaborating, accommodating, avoiding, or compromising with the nature of the conflict. Assessing the nature of the conflict can assist in the selection of the appropriate approach to deal with the conflict, and mend other spoiled relationships wherever it applies.
Step 3- Setting Priorities
Setting priorities in a conflicting situation is very important because it enables an individual to respect interests from other individuals while enabling one to avoid being caught up in a compromising situation. For this reason, a resolver should prioritize making good relationships as the first priority by approaching the conflict resolution process with the maximum level of calmness. Priority selection also involves separating people from their issues thereby allowing room for discussing real issues that lie beforehand (Gahr, Mosca, and Saliba 1995). Paying attention to opinions from the other conflicting party and listening keenly to all issues being presented in the case can help one to identify the facts to be used in defending one’s position regarding the case. This step is wrapped up by exploring all the possible options based on the priorities.
Step 4- The Resolution Process
After gathering enough information by listening to the sentiments presented by the other party, ensure that you are in agreement with the other party concerning the problem or issue to be solved. This determines the possibility of striking a mutual solution for the problem. A common perception of the problem at entails viewing the problem from the perceptions of all conflicting parties. If in agreement, the two parties can agree on the nature of the negotiation or rather on the issues that might atleast lead them to solve the conflict. Every party is interested in satisfying his/her own interests and therefore, a discussion of all possible solutions must be jointly discussed by the two conflicting parties. Each party should be willing to open to any ideas. In situations that are sensitive and those that might threaten the existence of humanity such as the possibility of war, national interests and the right to live must be prioritized against individual interests.
Step 5- Articulating Vision and Learning from the Past
When resolving conflicts, it is centrally important to revisit past detrimental conflicts, as they provide a viable platform for dealing with future and current conflicts. Revisiting past conflicts offers an adequate understanding of the factors that impaired adequate resolution of past conflicts. This prevents repetition of similar mistakes that might have led to the inadequate resolution of such past conflicts. As such, it increases the chances that conflicts will be resolved. On the other hand, revisiting past conflicts during the conflict resolution process facilitates acknowledgement of the misdeeds done in the past; hence creates a perception amongst the warring groups that the conflicts emanate from individual actions and should be generalized as mutually inclusive actions that cannot be forgiven. This initiates tolerance amongst the warring groups, which is an important step towards the major goal of conflict resolution process,
Step Six- Negotiate A solution to the Conflict
After the examining the goals and objectives of the resolution process, it is high time that the conflicting teams identifies the appropriate actions to assist in the realization of the solutions to the conflict. This entails adopting the ideas or strategies that are likely to deliver the best results in terms of promoting fair advantages to all parties in the conflict. Such solutions includes those that were mutually agreed upon by both teams. The best solution is the adoption of a strategy that fulfils the shared needs of both conflicting parties.
Step Seven- Building Solutions that Work
The signing of a mutual agreement signifies an end to a conflict and this means the adoption of lasting options to the conflict. Upholding the shared tenets of the agreement should be the overriding principle as opposed to simply satisfying the demands of each party to the conflict. Respecting the agreed values and responsibilities with regard to the conflict will help in keeping strengthened agreements and avoiding future conflicts.
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Vasquez, John, and Valeriano, Brandon. Chapter 10: Territory as Sources of conflict
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