Resolve Conflict Without Compromise to Achieve More

Do you find yourself agonising over conflicts trying to achieve win: win outcomes? Do you find yourself distracted in meetings unable to concentrate on discussions or contribute to decisions when you are trying to deal with conflicts? Do you sometimes drift off into a world of your own when you should be listening to your spouse, kids, boss, friends?

Conflicts arise all the time. Many are easy to deal with, some are not. The best outcome is always a win: win for both sides, but that is not always easy to achieve is it. On the other hand, the worst possible outcome is usually compromise, which is nearly always, lose: lose at some level for both parties.

I know I used to struggle with conflicts often until I came across this simple technique that helps me to resolve conflicts without agonising or becoming distracted at inappropriate times. The best part is that it can help me talk to others about the conflict, taking the emotion away from the situation, so we can resolve it together to reach that win: win outcome.

So here is an example to illustrate how the technique works. Start by writing down the two positions that form the crux of the conflict. I'm going to use an example of trying to get my son to bed at night. A trivial example, but it's easy for me to share with you without getting too technical or confidential. So my side of the conflict was I want him to get to bed early. His side is that he wants to stay up late.

So now we need to ask why is it that we are holding these positions. In his case, in order to have cool things (staying up late, playing computer games, downloading stuff) to talk to his pals about, he wanted to stay up late. For my part, so that he would be fresh and bright in the morning for school, I wanted him to go to bed early.

Great. Now for a conflict to exist in the first place, there must be a common goal, otherwise there really is no conflict. The common goal here was that we both wanted him to have a good day at school (albeit for different reasons...). Again, the common goal needs to be a prerequisite of the reasons these conflicting positions exist. In this case, because he wanted to have a good day at school the next day, my son wanted to have some cool things to talk about to his pals. Similarly, so that he could have a good day at school the next day, I wanted him to be fresh and alert in the morning.

We could have argued about him going to bed early until we were both angry and he wasn't early to bed anymore. Instead achieving this level of understanding allowed us to reach a win: win solution.

The solution was that I allowed him to download a small game onto his electronic device, paid for from his own pocket money, that he could play the next day, giving him something cool to talk to his pals about, on the understanding that he went straight to bed. Which he did. So we reached our win: win without compromising on the outcome.

Now this is a trivial example, but I hope it shows how this approach can be used to clarify the nature of a conflict and reach a solution without compromise.

I hope it saves you countless hours stressing over conflicts and allows you to stay present with people you need to live and work with.

Sapphire Coaching specialise in personal and business productivity. For more tools and techniques to improve your productivity go to, or sign up for your free 7-day productivity course.

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