Conflict is part of the human condition. In the ideal world there would be no conflict but let’s face it, we are human and as humans we are individuals with different needs and expectations. But how do we effectively share these needs to reduce conflict and create relationships based on compassionate connections?

There are different modes to conflict resolution but the most common are avoidance, accommodation, competition, compromise and collaboration. Resolving conflict can be successfully reached through collaboration in which both parties’ needs are met. Neither party gives in or gives up. An important element of the compromise model is for both parties to be able to initially state their own individual needs and then move to solutions. A second element is for each party to be able to listen, interpret and clarify the other parties’ needs. Both elements require compassionate listening to the self and to others.

The foundation of collaboration is each parties’ clear understanding of their own personal needs and what may be violated intentionally or unintentionally by the other party. Internal conflict arises with a party if they are not clear of the need and move directly to stating a want, a solution at best, but which generally comes across as a demand to the other party. This demand may decrease the likelihood of a peaceful resolution as it may violate the second parties’ needs and values.

From an MBTI® perspective,  I see this “needs clarity” as directly relating to the mental function of Introverted Feeling (Fi) or The Conscience. The Introverted Feeling is our internal value system which defines what is important to us. When we are angry, there is a high probability that our value system has been violated, yet sometimes we cannot specifically articulate the value(s) or personal need(s) that has been violated. Introverted Feeling is our personal integrity. We hold it close to our hearts and we may actually judge and impose our values on others.

In conflict resolution, it is important to understand and honor others’ needs and values. But first, we must be able to articulate our own.

Five actions to define our needs:

1)      Think about a time when your needs were fulfilled. Write down as many words as you can that describe your feelings/reactions.

2)      Think about time when your needs were not met. Write down as many words as you can that describe your feelings/reactions.

3)      Using Maslow’s hierarchy, write down your personal needs in each category. Be specific. Consider needs as “must haves” not “nice to haves.” “Must haves” are “basics” which create an experience of peace and fulfillment and if not met, will create discontentment, frustration and potentially conflict. Example, “I have the need to be pay my bills on time every month.” .

4)      Now, practice stating your needs in the positive. Example, “I need and value structure in my life” or “I need and value the time to grieve” or “I need and value time to exercise and take care of myself.”

5)      Keep your list readily available and be prepared to review and edit. Memorize your values if possible. Use your list when you begin to feel discontentment or anger with another party. Read your list to determine what need/value is being violated.

 Our needs change as we experience the changes in life. What is most important is that we be able to effectively articulate our needs/values and be prepared to listen the needs and values of others. As you move forward with learning conflict resolution and communication techniques, assertively and gently stating your needs will support the process and result in creating compassionate connections with others.


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