Respect in conflict resolution

After writing my post on civility, I happened upon a passage in Piero Ferrucci’s book ” the Power of Kindness” that was almost eerily relevant. Though he said it better than I ever could, Dr. Ferrucci and I are as one when it comes to the importance of respect in relationships. The passage reads:

“Respect is a necessary condition for the resolution of conflicts. Fights and tensions are ever present: In the family, at school, in businesses, among social groups, and among peoples. From a banal argument between friends to an atomic war, they are often an absurd waste of time and effort, and the cause of misery without end. Aggression and domination are crude and remarkably ineffective ways to handle problems, generating more harm than they can avert.

When they do explode in a destructive way, conflicts persist beneath the ashes, sapping energy and resources. For example, in the U.S., sixty-five percent of the problems related to professional output in businesses are due to conflicts between employees; and high ranking managers in the five hundred biggest America companies spend twenty percent of their time in matters to do with conflicts and litigations.

Conflict resolution can greatly improve relationships and efficiency in businesses. In schools, it can raise the academic standard. To resolve conflicts, the first step is to help the sides state their positions clearly and recognize the point of view and demands of the other. This is respect: the full acknowledgment of oneself and the other. Conflict resolution by way of respect and listening is the most efficient and elegant way to settle disputes. I am not saying it always works, because irrationality, quarrelsomeness, and rigidity abound everywhere. But it is a useful starting point.”

Beyond this passage, the book itself, endorsed by the Dalai Lama no less, presents an elegantly simple yet profound view of how our personal conduct shapes not only our lives and relationships, but the larger world around us.

At the risk of hugely oversimplifying Dr. Ferrucci’s message, how we deal with others can be productive and gratifying, or can lead to conflict. But conflict can also be resolved by how we deal with others: “Conflict resolution by way of respect and listening is the most efficient and elegant way to settle disputes.”

To be heard and to listen. Sometimes it is just that simple.

Posted on April 14th, 2011 by Renee