Self-awareness in conflict situations

'Anger is a signal and one worth listening to!'

(Lerner 1985)

When a conflict is developing between yourself and a client or colleague, anger is usually present. It is important to examine where that anger is coming from and what needs are not being met – both within yourself and within the client's situation.

You need to be very honest in acknowledging personal limitations and prejudices, and avoid imposing your own personal values and beliefs on others. These could include:

  • feeling threatened by the other person
  • commitment to personal values or beliefs
  • being unsure of your information
  • being unassertive, aggressive, talkative, or having low self-esteem.
  • being judgemental or having expectations
  • using inferences rather than facts or observations.

Feelings can bubble up unexpectedly and you may not be prepared for their intensity. This can exacerbate the potential for conflict developing with clients or co-workers. It is vitally important for you to be able to examine your responses to others and to be constantly aware of what your feelings and perceptions tell you, about your needs and those of your client, and whether these are being met.

People in conflict can approach the situation competitively or they can attempt to cooperate, while still acknowledging the existence of a conflict. When people compete in a conflict, they usually perceive that there will be an outcome in which one side wins and the other loses. If people attempt to approach a conflict cooperatively, they try to find a solution both parties can be satisfied with.

People's behaviour in conflict falls into five styles described below:

  • avoiding – withdrawing from the conflict
  • smoothing – finding common interests or areas of agreement
  • compromising – bargaining so that each side gets a part of what they want
  • forcing – one side causes the other side to change
  • problem Solving – attempting to find a solution that meets both needs.

Nonviolent Communication

Nonviolent Communication (NVC) is a model of communication proposed by Marshall Rosenberg of the Centre for Nonviolent Communication. Rosenberg 's model provides a list of needs that human beings have, and the feelings that are often defined by whether our needs are being met.

Applying the NVC model can reduce the likelihood of conflict developing, through a process encouraging us to focus on what we and others are observing; how and why we are each feeling as we do; what our underlying needs are; and what each of us would like to happen. These skills emphasise personal responsibility for our actions and the choices we make when we respond to others.

Reflective Journal activity

Examine personal bias.

Section 1 journal activities (Word Document 30KB)


How do you respond to conflict?

Section 1 activities (Word Document 34KB)

Last modified: Wednesday, 12 December 2018, 9:35 AM