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Contentious tactics

From: Conflict Resolution Fundamentals

Video: Contentious tactics

Getting into conflict is very easy to do. We are busy getting things done and checking things off our to-do list, and suddenly there we are saying or doing something that upsets someone or vice-versa. And if we feel we haven't been treated with equality or we haven't gotten our fair share of value or if we perceive our needs have been thwarted, we react, we say "Ouch." At this point, if we are not skilled in problem- solving, we often resort to contentious tactics. Contending is trying to resolve conflict on our own terms without regard for the other side's interests.

Contentious tactics

Getting into conflict is very easy to do. We are busy getting things done and checking things off our to-do list, and suddenly there we are saying or doing something that upsets someone or vice-versa. And if we feel we haven't been treated with equality or we haven't gotten our fair share of value or if we perceive our needs have been thwarted, we react, we say "Ouch." At this point, if we are not skilled in problem- solving, we often resort to contentious tactics. Contending is trying to resolve conflict on our own terms without regard for the other side's interests.

We hold our ground to prove we are right and our conflict partner is wrong. All of the contentious tactics we will be exploring are attempts to manipulate your conflict partner. In the absence of conflict resolution skills, it's doing whatever you need to do to win. Again, it's important for you to recognize these tactics to increase your self-awareness and to notice when others are employing them against you. This awareness will give you access to your Pause button and the possibility of choosing a more cooperative approach.

So, here's the list of contentious tactics: Ingratiation, Promises, Shaming, Persuasive Argumentation, Threats, Gamesmanship, and Violence. And here is what they look like in action. Ingratiation is getting what we want through sweet talk or flattery or because we are just so charming. It's a fairly useful tactic and most appreciated when it's authentic. Promises means getting what you want now by agreeing to do something later.

For example, you might promise to take someone to lunch in return for covering for your shift. Again, this is useful tactic, especially when it's employed for mutual gain as opposed to a power-play. Persuasive argumentation is the use of logic and reason to attempt to change someone's behavior or position. This tactic is not always successful because convincing someone to do something they don't want to do often backfires, especially if they are in true agreement. Next is shaming.

This tactic is expressing shock or disapproval about someone's choices or behavior, usually on moral grounds. Shaming is a much more popular tactic than most of us would like to admit, but using it can tear relationships apart. The next tactic is when you will want to take off your list if you're committed to collaboration and big picture results: Threats, this is getting what we want by saying we'll cause the other person harm if they don't comply.

Threats can range from really subtle to frightening, and they can come from a variety of places like email, text messages, and conversation. Just remember that every threat or accusation is really a cry for help. Gamesmanship is getting what we want by pushing the rules or ratcheting up the stakes, like forcing a foul in basketball. The sole purpose of this tactic is to come out ahead. And finally, Physical force.

This is anything from hitting, pushing, shoving, and taking to war and terrorism. Although we have rules and laws that govern our behavior in this area, we break them routinely. One example among many, I experienced in the workplace was when a co-worker grabbed a report I'd worked on for weeks and tossed it in the air. I want to remind you why understanding these tactics is so important. You have to teach people how you want to be treated.

And if you call attention to the tactic as it's happening, it puts your conflict partner on notice that you won't play victim. Most often, they will acknowledge their mis-step and return to cooperation. Now, think back to your most recent disagreement and take a look at it through the lens of contentious tactics. You'll undoubtedly notice your own go-to choices. And this is a giant step forward in choosing a constructive alternative.

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Conflict Resolution Fundamentals

17 video lessons · 14345 viewers

Lisa Gates
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