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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Further Suggestions for dealing with anger and conflict

Finally we have come to the end of anger and conflict management. I do hope that someone has found it useful. To end of here are some final tips and suggestions:
The way you typically express anger may take some time to modify. Some extra suggestions include:

 Keep a diary of your anger outbursts, to try and understand how and why you get mad.
 Take regular exercise, go for a run or play a sport. People who are stressed are more likely to experience anger. Numerous worldwide studies have documented that regular exercise can improve mood and reduce stress levels.
 Use the "empty chair" exercise. Pretend you're sitting across from the person you are angry with and say what's on your mind. Who is this person?
 Write a letter to the person you are angry with. You could describe your anger right now, at the time of the anger event. You can destroy it/you can save it/you can mail it at a later date.
 Use positive self-talk, e.g. "I am able to choose my anger style." and "I am angry but I'm not going to let it take over me”.
 Involve an objective third party. Ask someone you trust to be a sounding board. Who might this be?
 Stop thinking about your anger and focus on something positive. The aim is to convert the anger into something more constructive. Different people have different interests or hobbies. Perhaps your feelings can be redirected into one of your hobbies - something creative such as art, music or drumming, dancing, sports, writing, etc.
 If all else fails - thump a cushion, kick a bean bag (DON'T do anything that will hurt yourself or someone else)
 Forgiveness is very important for you to deal with your own anger. Once you have forgiven, you will be free to move forward and deal with your feelings. Do not underestimate the importance of forgiveness.

(Information taken from BUPA’s Health Information Team, 2004)
Remember the following advices:
"Indeed, anger is from the evil and, without doubt, the evil is created from the Fire. Only water can extinguish fire. Therefore, if anyone of you feels the rush of anger. Let him perform ablution”, and “When you feel angry, keep silent.” {Hadeeth of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)}

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has been reported to have said:
“For the person who restrains his anger, Allah will restrain punishment over him on the day of Resurrection”.

“Do not remember past disputes” [Luqmaan (A.S)]

“As long as possible try not to start fights and arguments.”
[Luqmaan (A.S)]

“When you feel angry, keep silent.” {Hadeeth of the Prophet (SAW)}

According to Hazrat Abdullah bin Umar (RA) the messenger of Allah (SAW) said, “To restrain anger in order to please Allah is more excellent in the sight of Allah than to swallow back anything”.

“If anyone of you gets angry and he is standing then, let him sit down. If it subsides, well and good, otherwise he must lie down.” {Hadeeth of the Prophet (SAW)}

“Don’t get angry with anyone in the presence of your guests.” [Luqmaan (A.S.)]

“Speaking without thinking is like shooting without aiming.” (William Gurney Benham)

“Conflict is like fire, it can keep you warm, and can cook your food, but if it gets out of control, it can burn down your house.” (Free to Grow Lifeskills)

“Self-control is the ability to keep it cool when someone is making it hot for you.”

May Allah help us all to deal with anger and conflict in a constructive manner.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Dealing with Conflict-Step 4- Work on Negotiating

Once you have successfully gotten through the first 3 steps, you can begin to focus on step 4 which is “working on negotiating”. It is important that you have first mastered the first 3 steps because negotiation will not be able to take place if for instance, one person has not been listened to and understood or the other person has not assertively expressed their needs. Furthermore, if you have not managed to achieve step 1 which is “staying calm” then all the efforts to resolve conflict will be useless. Negotiation therefore comes at the end, when the people involved in the conflict have managed to calm themselves, when they have listened to and understood each other and when both parties have communicated their needs and wants in an assertive manner.

Negotiation has been defined as follows:

“Negotiation is a form of decision making in which two or more parties talk with one another in an effort to resolve their opposing interests…a process by which a joint decision is made by two or more parties.”(Pruitt 1981, pp xi-xii in Anstey, 1998, p. 91)

“Negotiation is a process for resolving conflict between two or more parties whereby both or all modify their demands to achieve a mutually acceptable compromise…a process of adjusting both parties’ views of their ideal outcome to an attainable outcome.” (Kennedy et al 1987, p.14 in Anstey, 1998, p.92).

The Process of Negotiation

Three things have been identified as helpful in the negotiation process. (Gift of the Givers: Self Discovery and Growth Course Manual, 1999).

1. Compromise
The parties negotiate with each other until they arrive at a solution that is acceptable to both. In the process both give up something of their original position and meet each other half-way in an attempt to be tolerant towards each other.

In the negotiation process you can make a list, (mentally or you can write it down) of all the things that you are willing to compromise on.

You should not put things on the list unless you are absolutely sure that you will be able to give it up.

2. Accommodation

Both are willing to give, and to accommodate the other’s point of view, and yet to be honest about stating any specific uncertainties they may have.

You have to be able to accommodate the other person by understanding their wants and needs and meeting these needs and wants to a reasonable extent.

It is essential in the conflict resolution process for both parties to compromise something in order to accommodate each other. If this is not done then there will not be successful conflict resolution.

After having listened to and understood the other person’s requests, make a list of the things you think you can give to them. Once again you should only put things on the list that you are absolutely sure you will be able to give to the other person. It is very important that you keep up to the things you promise to do.

3. Seeking alternatives
Parties look for a solution that will have the greatest significance for them. They are concerned about the issue, the problem that needs to be solved and about what will be best under the circumstances.

 When seeking alternatives it is crucial that both parties are equally involved.
 You can sit together and brainstorm about possible solutions.
 The atmosphere should be a pleasant, happy one and both parties should feel comfortable to share their thoughts.
 After brainstorming, all the suggestions can be evaluated. The advantages and disadvantages of all the suggestions can be looked at.
 Thereafter the solution that seems most acceptable to both parties should be chosen.
 The Plan has to be carried out and each person should accept responsibility and try equally hard to keep to the plan.
 There should be no blaming each other.
 Remember all this is being done in order to achieve peace.
(Gift of the Givers: Self Discovery and Growth Course Manual, 1999).

References for this post:
-Anstey, M. (1998). Negotiating Conflict. Cape Town: Juta & Co,Ltd.
-Gift of the Givers Careline. (1999). “Self- Discovery and Growth Course”.

  Unpublished Course Manual.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Communication Styles

In the last few posts we looked at different communication styles, in this post we will summarize these and end off with Changing your Communication: Step 3 of Anger and Conflict Management. Here are some exercises to do in order to end of with communication:
In the following exercise, state whether the response given in each situation is assertive, aggressive, passive or manipulative.

1. You are part of a group that deals with helping to better the community that you live in. This group has meetings once a month. The date is being set for the next meeting. You really want to attend, but you can’t make it on the proposed date. Everyone else has accepted this date. When the chairperson of the group says; “Is that OK for everyone, then?”

You say; “Well alright, as it seems to be convenient for everyone else.”

2. Jack is having trouble getting started on an assignment that he has to do for school. He doesn’t really know where to begin because he has skipped many classes lately. He just felt that school was boring and decided not to go.

He says to Janet; “I’m useless at doing assignments, I have no idea where to begin, I wish I didn’t miss so many classes but I have been having so many problems at home. My dad beats me up a lot and will do it again if I fail. Won’t you please do the assignment for me?”

3. Rajesh works in the computer field. Part of his job is to go out and install computers for people. He has taken very long with installing a computer. His manager asks him what went wrong when he was installing the computer.

He says; “You wasted a lot of my time! You never even told me he didn’t have the area ready, and the people who work there don’t have any idea what they are doing, they should all be fired, they are just useless!”

4. Somebody in your neighbourhood asks you for a lift because she works in the same area that you do. You don’t mind giving her a lift but you don’t have enough time in the morning to go an extra 10 minutes to pick her up from her house.

You say; “I don’t mind giving you a lift, but you would have to find your own way to my house.”

5. Fatima is on an important call with her sister when her husband interrupts and asks her something.

She says; “Can’t you see I’m busy, my sister really needs to talk right now! I will answer you later, just wait OK! I can’t even have a conversation in peace!”

6. Naledi works at a clothing store. A colleague of hers hears her dealing with an awkward customer. Afterwards they praise the way she handled it.

She says; “It was nothing really, I only really came in at the end.”

7. Ahmed is a trainer who trains people to run HIV/AIDS workshops. He sat in on a workshop presented by one of the people that he trained. He felt that it was highly successful.

He says; “I think that was a really good presentation. I particularly liked the way that you made the material come alive.”

8. A salesman has been pushing hard for you to buy a piece of equipment. You are not sure; besides, you had thought of looking at several makes before deciding.

You say; “Well, I suppose it’s more or less what I’m looking for. I was going to look at other makes, but perhaps this will be OK.

9. A friend of yours has put your name down to help out at a community social function without asking you.
You say; “Look, why didn’t you ask me first, instead of dropping me in it?”

10. Samantha is really busy with her school homework. Her younger sister Jill comes to her and asks for help.

She says; “No, I can’t help you, ask somebody else! What the hell is wrong with you, cant you see how busy I am? You just have to be a pest, don’t you?”


Answers: (1. passive; 2. manipulative; 3. aggressive; 4. assertive; 5. aggressive; 6. passive; 7. assertive; 8. passive; 9. assertive; 10. aggressive).
Communication Self-Assessment:
Review the 4 different ways of communicating and evaluate where you fit in. Think about what description best describes your way of communicating in a conflict situation.

Remember that you can have a mixed way of communicating as well. Look out for this. You may be a “mixed communicator”.

  • Write down your personal way of communicating in a conflict situation:
  • How far away are you from assertive communication?
  • Make a list of the things you would need to do/ the changes you would have to make in order to become an assertive communicator.
Changing your communication will be a difficult process but it is not impossible. If it is important to you to have better relationships and to deal with anger and conflict better then you will try very hard to make the change and YOU WILL SUCCEED! Good Luck with all your efforts.


In the next post we will look at the 4th and final step towards dealing with anger and conflict: Negotiation