If we’re serious about resolving the conflict in our lives, we need to be able to articulate our own needs. Of course, most of us assume we know what those are. Only when we try to articulate them, things get a little fuzzy.
It’s not so much that we don’t know our own interests as that we haven’t sat down and thought about it. That’s normal. And perfectly fine…
At first. But while informality may be acceptable at the beginning stages of conflict resolution, it doesn’t serve us well when we get down to the real business of patching things up.
So, how do we go about assessing our own needs and how do faith-based conflict resolution skills help us do so?
One way to start is by asking ourselves what is at stake in this conflict.
What Is At Stake?
What specifically do we stand to lose or gain: money, goods, respect, love, friends, etc., etc.? At this point it’s great to take some time, sit down, and write out a list.
Listing everything that we hope to gain and everything we fear to lose allows us to better understand our interests. Sometimes we realize less is at stake than we thought; we can finally take a deep breath and relax. Sometimes we discover that more is at stake; all of a sudden we realize we ought to take the conflict more seriously.
Listing the stakes also helps us see what the fight is really all about. We can prepare for the worst-case scenario and better understand the best-case scenario. We can finally focus on what’s really important. We can clearly articulate our interests and our goals, which helps us tell our story to third parties such as friends, lawyers, juries, and judges.
After brainstorming a list of the stakes, we might ask ourselves more specific questions about the conflict. For example, is this primarily a fight over
As we discussed in an earlier post, most conflicts revolve around who we are, what we do, or what we have. Most fights involve all three, but depending on what our main interests are, we might want to ask ourselves some further questions:
Conflicts Over Possessions
- What goods or possessions do we want?
- Has something been taken from us?
- Have we taken something from someone?
- Are the goods we’re seeking scarce?
Conflicts Over Actions
- What do we want to do?
- Has someone stopped us from doing something we wanted to do?
- Have we stopped someone else from doing something they wanted to do?
- Have our actions harmed anyone?
- Has someone else’s actions harmed us?
- How have our own actions harmed us?
Conflicts Over Identities
- Who are we trying to be?
- Has someone objected to who we are?
- Has someone stopped us from being who we want to be?
- Do we object to someone else’s identity?
- Do we object to someone else’s attempt to define themselves?
These questions are starting points on our journey of defining and articulating our own interests, which is an important step toward resolving our conflict. There are, of course, many more questions that could be asked, and perhaps should be later on, but if we mull over these questions and take the time to answer them truthfully, we’ll be well on our way toward mediating our dispute.
For more self-assessment questions, head over to the shop to buy the Taming the Wolf Conflict Resolution Journal Workbook.