When using a cooperative method to resolve conflict, both people work to:
- Find the common interest, what both people are interested in having happen.
- Share the cost and the benefit of the resolution.
- Agree to contribute something to make the agreed upon outcome happen.
- Make sure both people really benefit in some way.
- Determine how each person will treat the other.
This method is effective, because each person considers the other person’s ideas. Both people have worked to discover what each needs or wants and the relationship is strengthened (Tjosvold, 1993).
Look back at the two recent conflicts you described. What model did you and the other person use to attempt to resolve the conflict? Mostly cooperation or competition? Had you or they already decided what must happen before you even spoke to each other? Were the conflicts resolved or are you still arguing about them?
If you need to strengthen your partner relationship, conflict resolution skills may be a priority for you. Couples who know how to handle confrontation and handle it well, are more likely to stay together. Couples who rely on contentious facial expressions, hostile stares, and thinly veiled threats, don’t stay together. During a study of 700 couples, those couples who stayed together had demonstrated the ability to work through differences by stating their views honestly and respectfully (Tjosvold, 1993).
Interpersonal conflict resolution skills are not learned in one session. The cooperative approach briefly described is one approach. There are different approaches and some are more suitable to certain types of conflict situations than others. You will need a variety of conflict resolution tools. To achieve your life goals and prevent relapse, make a specific goal to: continue reading, practicing, and taking courses until you become an expert in managing interpersonal conflicts in your life. Conflict is inevitable therefore conflict resolution is an essential life skill. Solving conflicts positively will decrease your stress and will help you to prevent relapse.