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Managing Conflict Dynamics: A Practical Approach.

Once a decision has been made and a neutral environment decided upon for the conversation, there are key elements to conducting the conversation. One organization (CMP Resolutions) terms this first phase as scoping.24 It includes the time to understand what is happening, each person’s perspective of the conflict, and what is important to them, as well as establishing ways the involved parties can work toward a solution. The first step in the conversation is to allow all parties to state their opinions and their perspectives on the conflict. Before beginning, the ground rules regarding confidentiality and decision making should be outlined. Listening, respectively, to each participant during this step is very important. Asking clarifying questions without imposing one’s own view of the situation is a skill that often requires practice. One must be aware of the tone and volume of voice to ensure that the environment remains respectful. Expressions of empathy such as “that sounds really difficult” are helpful in setting the tone and encouragement of information sharing. One should avoid judgmental or blaming statements. Listening skills are one of the primary skills to be developed when working on one’s ability to manage conflict. Utilizing “AMPP” helps to remember four main listening skills that are helpful when faced with a problem.16 “A” stands for ask which starts the conversation and allows the other person to discuss their feelings about the situation. Mirroring (M) is a tool to encourage the speaker to continue or offer more information when they seem reluctant. The technique involves statements about what you are observing (e.g., you seem down today) in the other person and then asking a question. The third technique, paraphrasing (P), is the restating of their responses in your own words which shows active listening and makes clear whether you both have the same understanding. Finally, prime (P) refers to priming the pump. It is useful when someone is clearly emotional about the issue but reluctant to talk despite the use of the first three techniques. With this method, one makes a guess out loud about what the other person might be thinking or feeling. One must choose the words carefully and use a calm tone to avoid worsening the situation