Conflict hurts, and people respond to pain in three stages:

  1. “Denial” – In this stage, people deny they have a problem. They try to maintain the status quo. They are not ready to negotiate, and if they make an offer, they do it only to show how reasonable they are, and that others are to blame.
  2. “Anger” – When people finally admit they have a problem, they may explode with emotion. They are no longer in denial, but they are not ready to deal with the problem.
  3. “Acceptance” – Now the negotiator has something to work with. “Letting go and moving beyond is a form of grieving. The source…of the word ‘grieve’ is ‘to carry a heavy burden.’”

Identify which stage each party has reached. Move those who are in denial or angry through these early stages. To break down denial, ask open-ended questions to help them explore their
counterparts’ realities and the larger situation. When people are angry, acknowledge the validity of their feelings. Finally, when all parties have reached acceptance, mediation can begin.

Suggested Reading:

The Conflict Resolution Toolbox: Models and Maps for Analyzing, Diagnosing, and Resolving Conflict
Title: The Conflict Resolution Toolbox: Models and Maps for Analyzing, Diagnosing, and Resolving Conflict
ISBN: 0470835176
ISBN13: 978-0470835173
In real-life conflict resolution situations, one size does not fit all. Just as a mechanic does not fix every car with the same tool, the conflict resolution practitioner cannot hope to resolve every dispute using the same technique. Practitioners need to be comfortable with a wide variety of tools to diagnose different problems, in vastly different circumstances, with different people, and resolve these conflicts effectively. The Conflict Resolution Toolbox gives you all the tools you…