Civil behavior as a condition of conflict resolution

Respectful behavior is a prerequisite for respectful conflict resolution.

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Understanding why counterproductive behaviors happen is important, but before you can address those underlying issues, you need to get people behaving civilly. Without civility, any attempt at conflict resolution will run into problems. If one party to the conflict is behaving inappropriately, conflict resolution isn’t going to change that.

Telling someone who is the recipient of inappropriate behavior that they need to further accommodate the person who is treating them badly is a lot like telling a victim of a robbery, if they just gave the robber their stuff, they wouldn’t be robbed. It’s true, but beside the point. The point is that the robber should not be taking other people’s stuff and people behaving inappropriately should be learning how to behave properly.

Try to imagine what conflict resolution would look like if you put a robbery or rape victim into a conflict resolution session with the criminal who harmed them. “Perhaps you could tell them how the rape made you feel so that they no longer try to rape you.” Yeah – no. Not appropriate. The appropriate response is to limit the freedom of the rapist or robber until or unless they proved that they are no longer a danger to others.

Conflicts aren’t a problem if they are civil

Conflicts aren’t a problem if both people are behaving civilly and professionally. They only become a problem if one or both parties start behaving inappropriately. The problem then isn’t conflict resolution. It’s inappropriate behavior. The solution is to insist they behave civilly despite the conflict.

And yes, if someone is behaving inappropriately, they have to be monitored for a while to ensure that they stop behaving badly and start behaving civilly. Only once they have proved that they can behave civilly can you start using conflict resolution techniques.

To learn more about why conflict resolution doesn’t work when the problem is bullying, check out this online course: