CONFLICT HAPPENS, BUT MANAGEMENT MATTERS


Following article was first published in Gettysburg Times Vol. 114, No. 59, Pg. B5, March 10, 2016.                                                                                          

ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE

September 7, 2016

Conflict happens everywhere. It is a social behavior present on the job, in personal relationships, within families and the global scale. Nations in dispute deal with conflicts diplomatically or militarily, while on a personal note as individuals, people tend to settle differences either through the legal system or by creating more conflict caused by the desire for a win-lose solution whenever they fail to reach a desirable agreement.

With the knowledge that the challenges of dealing with conflicts are great, coupled with the maddening effect whenever a conflict is not resolved amicably, the question is, why do people continue to engage in conflicts? With the increased globalization of the world’s economy, humans are becoming more interdependent with one another. Crowding in the streets, or in nations, creates stress, which serves as a catalyst for conflict.

On the job, the cubicles are becoming overcrowded. The freeways are packed as well as the parking lots, while people can no longer enjoy their surroundings without feeling the effects of the pervasive noise everywhere. Such overcrowding creates a sense of scarcity of space as people begin to feel a threat to the privacy they so much desire.

In trying to remedy the problems created by human interdependency, people clash and engage in conflicts as a way to satisfy personal interests at the expense of the other. The idea that “I can only win when you lose”– a win-lose approach to conflict — makes it difficult to reach agreement or find solution to differences. In most cases, more problems are created when parties to a conflict fail to employ the right approach to solutions that both can agree on without damaging costs to either of the parties involved.

While conflict remains a unique part of human behavior, its management is essential and pays big dividends in personal relationships when the right approach such as alternative dispute resolution is employed. How people handle differences determines the quality of their relationships and without conflict management, the only option would be the courts, where one party wins, while the other leaves unhappy.

Mediation as a form of alternative dispute resolution is a key element in conflict management. Through mediation, disputants are brought together to find solutions that benefit both without damage to any. The mediator as a third-party helps the disputants negotiate a settlement and while the mediator stands as a neutral body, he or she does not impose a solution, but allows both parties to find amicable settlement.

A good mediation technique can help parties in conflict hold the quality environment needed to make proper progress, in any kind of negotiation. It enables people to go as deep as they want, while it invites honest expression of feelings and open exploration of assumptions and other pressing needs. The end goal is to allow the most difficult and emotionally substantive concern to be resolved in a safe way.

Adeyemi Oshunrinade E. JD is an expert in general law, foreign relations and the United Nations. He is the founder of Gettysburg Language Institute.

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Categories: Conflict Resolution, Mediation

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2 replies

  1. Conflict management is an integral part of security management . In fact as head of security at my organisation which is a community based Company, mediation or if you like the ability to manage the varying component in our community to prevent crime , have a sense of inclusion , create the right employment policies , feedback policy etc all have effective roles to play in the management of conflicts Nigeria is a typical example of how the policy of inclusion and the lack of it has created a widening gap thereby resulting in our ability to effectively manage the inherent conflicts. This is a job I have been doing for fourteen years and I guess you have to extend this to Nigeria by creating mini conflict management centres .

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  2. Peter,
    Thanks for your insights, do agree conflict management matters as a tool in conflict resolution. In fact, most cases other than criminal offenses are resolved out of court through alternative dispute resolution. It is all about educating the public about the importance of finding ways to manage our differences. Perhaps, it is time for Nigeria to get on board

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