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Conflicts sprout up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but we don't experience them as troublesome until they ripen into a dispute. At its core, conflict resolution is really a communication discipline with a set of flexible practices. Before we dive into those practices, it's a good idea to gain an understanding of the social psychology that influences our disputes. We will begin by taking a look at the anatomy of conflict and how we get locked into the name, blame, and claim cycle.
We are human, and in relationship to one another, we often have conflicting wants, needs, goals, and values. We have imbalances in our access to resources, and we have differing opinions about the rules that should govern everyone's conduct. A dispute arises from conflict when three circumstances come together at the same time: The belief that you're being deprived of something you need or want, the belief that someone else is causing the deprivation, and the belief that deprivation violates a social norm or rule.
These circumstances can be captured in three words: Name, Blame, and Claim. So, let's say Jack forgets to include his manager Heather in an email loop about a new project he is angling for. Heather gets upset about being bypassed and accuses Jack of violating the social rule of running things past the boss. Her accusation is the beginning of the name-blame-claim loop. And we are off and running, it's a full-blown dispute.
Heather feels she's been deprived of something she wants, she blames Jack for the wrongdoing, and claims he's violated a workplace norm. So now let's make this personal. If you backpedal to your most recent argument with a friend or co-worker, see if you can deconstruct your conversation. Remember, even if the argument only occurred in your head, it's still a conflict, an internal conflict. So if you haven't had a full-blown argument recently, thinking about something you're upset about but haven't yet aired.
When you pointed your finger, what did you name as the issue? And right on the heels of that, who did you blame? And with little if any conversation, what did you claim as a solution that would turn everything around and solve the problem in your favor? If you were on the receiving end of the name-blame-claim loop, how did you react? If you take the time to do this inquiry, you will create a framework for seeing the conflict clearly. So take a look at the exercise guide for this movie, it will help you ponder those questions, and that way you will have a working example to use throughout the course.
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