Civil Negotiation and Mediation Blog

Preparing for Conflict

Posted by Nancy Hudgins on Thu, May 17, 2012

Unlikely teachers conflict resolution

I’ve just read Judy Ringer’s Unlikely Teachers.  Judy is an aikidoist and conflict resolution professional.  She applies lessons she’s learned from aikido to conflict.  Try them in your next divorce mediation session or conflict at work.

I often say, “Conflict is part of life.”  Judy points that since conflict is all around us and we continually confront it because every other person in the world is different from us, we should intentionally prepare for conflict.  She suggests six steps:

Breathe.  Learning to re-center when we get knocked off balance is an important life skill.  Practicing it when not in conflict can help you access it more easily when you are.

Reframe.  Think about other ways to look at the conflict, by stepping outside of it and examining it.  By looking at things differently, you may discover something new about yourself, about the person you are in conflict with, or about life in general.

Experiment.  Try brainstorming by thinking of all the possible ways you could respond. There are surely many ways to react.  Envision how they would look in practice.

Practice.  Like any other skill, conflict resolution skills require practice.

Count your blessings.  Judy suggests cultivating gratitude and wonder. 

When divorcing couples are caught in a conflict trap, it is very difficult for them to see the other side’s point of view.  Many times one spouse just reacts without thinking to the other spouse, who then reacts without thinking, and on it goes.  Practice these conflict resolution skills before the need to use them arises.