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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 2, Lesson 5

Conflict Resolution Procedures

Most experts agree that conflicts are best resolved by following a specific procedure. The team should meet with the goal of exploring and resolving the problem at hand. Conflicts should be addressed fairly soon - so that they do not escalate and damage relationships among team members.

Briggs (1997) has synthesized the research on conflict resolution, outlining a six-step process.

  • Step 1: Be Prepared
    Take time to mentally prepare yourself before the meeting. Conflicts should be approached with an open and flexible attitude. Write down the main points that you want to communicate. Reflect on the conflict prior to the meeting. Think about other perspectives. Demonstrate positive intentionality - "the assumption that the other party means well and is not trying to cause a conflict" (Wisinski, 1993, p. 27).
  • Step 2: Be a Good Communicator
    During the meeting, begin by openly acknowledging the problem. Discuss the problem in a constructive, non-blaming way. Whenever possible, use 'I' statements to express your thoughts and feelings. Listen attentively to others on your team.
  • Step 3: Clarify the Conflict
    Explore the issue in depth. Allow everyone to express his/her views, so that each person's underlying issues and motivations become clear. Identify the crux of the problem and how it relates to the overall mission of the team. In your discussions, "attack the issue, not the person" (Briggs, 1997, p. 256).
  • Step 4: Generate Alternative Solutions
    Once the main problems have been identified and clarified, generate as many alternative solutions as you can. In so doing, emphasize the positive outcomes that you would like to see. Collaborate with your team. Combine ideas and look for novel, creative solutions. Continue with this process until the team agrees on a course of action.
  • Step 5: Commit to Action
    Write down the proposed resolution to the conflict. Create an action plan for change. Team members should commit to following the plan and discussing the outcome in future meetings.
  • Step 6: When All Else Fails
    Sometimes, a resolution to the conflict cannot be found. A discussion might become very intense or go off track. When that happens, Briggs (1997) suggests the following:
    • Allow team members to take a brief time-out from the meeting
    • Agree to let the issue rest, and continue the discussion in another meeting
    • Agree to call in a supervisor or consultant. An outside person can offer an objective perspective on the situation. Briggs (1997) contends that caution should be exercised when calling in supervisors or consultants. While outside support is sometimes appropriate, it is important that the team learn to solve its own problems and not grow dependent upon outside assistance.

For another perspective on conflict resolution, read the following material which is available in the Resource Bank.


As you are reading this material, please do the following.

  • Pay particular attention to Step 1 - Know Thyself and Take Care of Self, and Step 2 - Clarify Personal Needs Threatened by Dispute.
  • Also, be sure that you understand the value of considering BATNA, WATNA and MLATNA. These terms are defined and explained in the article.

Information and questions from the readings above may appear on the self assessment and/or final evaluation.


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