Conflict Prevention and ReSolution: How About We Put The “Solution” into “ReSolution?”

March 12th, 2012

by Katrina Brooke

Think of how many times we get caught up in an argument or disagreement and then forget to focus on the solution.  We’re in “Reaction” mode not “Responding” mode.  We may be attached to being right, that the other people got the facts wrong or that we’ve been misunderstood.  We may even be afraid that WE made a mistake.  The problem with these is that our focus is on the problem – not on the solution.

Albert Einstein once said, “You can’t solve a problem from the level of the problem.”  What that means to me is to focus on the solution, not on the things that aren’t working.  Not how we got here, or what you did, or what they did or did I mess up.  You can clean that up later.  It’s really about, “Okay, now what do we do?”  There in lies the solution!

Here’s an example that will help explain what I’m talking about.  It happened when I went to pick up a project I had printed for a training I was to do.  When I went to pick up the project, the department manager and I were quite a ways apart on the price.

As it was a fairly significant purchase and I had done my due diligence. I had called different stores for pricing, talked to people at each store and written down their names and quotes.

I chose the store I was going to use, gathered up the computer, thumb drive, etc and off I went.  I showed up at the store and talked with a clerk.  She helped me, looked over everything and confirmed I had the correct pricing.  We went through everything, paper, binding, copies… how much each item would cost etc.  Nice.

I left and came back later in the day when they were done.  I went to the counter and talked to a different clerk.  I think it was the department manager.  She rang in the price and I explained that it wasn’t the price I had been quoted.  I told her what the price was and she said, “Well, we can’t let you have this project for that price.”

I explained I had talked to someone on the phone and that was the price I was given for all the pieces.  She explained that the person on the phone apparently misquoted me.

So, here we had a large project printed.  They couldn’t resell it and I needed it for my deadline.

I was a bit defensive because I knew what I had heard from the initial call.  As we were talking, I completely forgot that I had also talked about pricing with the initial clerk who took my order and had confirmed the price.  Also, since it was confirmed and I thought all was agreed to, I didn’t have any of the documentation with me.

I could tell we were at an impasse.  We had both explained our situation and we were stuck.  I knew if we continued we wouldn’t get anywhere and I knew there was a potential for misunderstandings to take place.  It could have gone into one of those conversations when you’re in a disagreement with someone about a certain thing, and as your talking you realize there is something else going on… and you can’t put your finger on it.   I’ve learned to avoid those.

Having this awareness, the next thing I said was, “Okay, now what do we do?”  I did my best to not be attached to an outcome, meaning, to be okay with what ever price we agreed to then and there – and move on.  It could be the price I was quoted, pay the fee she had in mind, split the difference or another solution.  It was about solving the problem in that moment and then I would make other decisions after that.

It was about honoring both our positions and yes, I did put my frustration aside because I knew that wouldn’t get me anywhere.  It would have lead to one of those unusual conversations.  Plus, when you mix anger with a problem – it usually makes the problem harder to see.

Holding on to my non-attachment and honestly focusing on the solution, I waited in silence for a few seconds and didn’t say anything.  I let the question lead us to the solution.  She spoke next, saying, “Okay, this time we will do it for that.”  I paid for the project, retrieved it and headed to my office.

As I drove away from the store I immediately remembered I had talked to the clerk when I brought the project in, and she had validated the first, less expensive quote I had received on the phone.  During the moment of the conflict I think I was taken a bit aback d by the situation… I noticed I completely forgot about the clerk that had taken my order.

What I know is that if I had gone into accusation mode, or it’s “Your problem,” or argued (you know, talked while being defensive)… the resolution wouldn’t have been the same.  It would have become an argument with her being defensive because she either A: thought I was lying or B: was triggered by an insecurity in her management skills – maybe thinking she may have not trained her staff well.   I also could have defended her indirect suggestion that I was a liar and taken that personally.   We would have been us arguing over something that had nothing to do with the problem.  None of these “assumptions” have anything to do with the problem.

You see, if you stay un-emotional, the solution is much easier to uncover.

It’s like I tell people when I’m speaking, some arguments we get in have nothing to do with the real problem.  The “problem” triggers our defenses and we start wanting a solution that is “OUR WAY” so we can feel better and cover up the emotional trigger.

None of that has to do with the actual “problem”.  Rather it’s a subconscious, non-productive discussion where we are “attached to the outcome” so we can feel better.  You know, thinking “He better agree with me because I am an excellent manager,” or “I know I’m right.”  The set up is, if the other person doesn’t agree then, well, you don’t feel better.

Many conflicts, like one’s I saw as a police officer, stemmed from one person looking to another to feel better about themselves.  Then, when the other person didn’t agree, or didn’t act like they wanted or give them the answer in the way they wanted, it was a personal affront and things often escalated.

The flaw is in looking to someone else to feel our value, worth or esteem.  It invites us to try and control someone else, the environment we live in and can set us up to be someone we are not.  Unfortunately, we can chase our value, worth and esteem from someone else… for quite a long time.

Here are some steps for easier Conflict ReSolution

1:  Do your best to focus on the solution

2:  Do your best to not be emotional

3:  Keep it to one problem at a time

4:  Take a break if you can, or if you need

5:  Don’t take the problem, or the way they’re approaching you, personally



   Be on the Lookout for These!


I’m pleased to announce I am now offering trainings in how to deliver my Violence Prevention/ Self Esteem program for youth.  You can learn the skills and techniques to deliver my highly successful program to the youth you serve

Also, I am now offering my Mastery in the Workplace Program.  Over the course of five trainings – over a year period – I take your staff through all the concepts and techniques that will allow positive changes in your team, workplace and work environment.  

Management Skills Program.  A progressive training helping managers improve their management skills.  It occurs over five trainings over a year period – allowing personalized application and review of the new skills.


See you soon!

Paul Figueroa  |  Peace Enforcement LLC  |  206-650-5364

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