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Problem SolvingCircumvent:  (zero resolution) This is avoiding resolution at all costs and energies

Competition: (winner and loser) One individual or team is singled out as a winner and the other party is not.  Think of sporting events such as the OLYMPICS.  It is competitions within competition. Lots of problems within relationships the parties attempt to solve the issue with competition and they keep score.  Sibling Rivalry is most often based on competition with each other.

Capitulate:  (winner and loser) in this style of problem solving one party concedes or relinquishes their position or “side” of the issue and gives up.  There is rarely a resolution to the situation.  In abuse situations the victim repeatedly “gives in” and “gives up” trying.  The primary results are that there is no resolution until the victim totally exits the situation and may need assistance from a neutral party to find resolution.  The winner gains a sense of power and thus may increase efforts.

Compromise:  (win some/lose some and win some/lose some) This is a series of trade off so that each party achieves some resolution and gives up some of the issues involved.  This form of problem-solving and conflict resolution is how the Congress of the United States was designed to resolve and problem solve.  The members of Congress are supposed to argue and debate all issues until the “best practices” solution can be achieved to represent the whole country and the states.  It is the most common form used within the arbitration system of the Courts.

Collaboration:  (consensus) Neither party leaves the conflict until resolution is approved on all sides, which is the goal of Mediation; an extremely intensive form of conflict resolution and problem-solving.  This takes practice and skill.
Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary:
To work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor; to cooperate with or willingly assist an enemy of one’s country and especially an occupying force; to cooperate with an agency or instrumentality with which one is not immediately connected. (1996 edition)

Collaboration is the number one problem resolution tool used in the mediation of children’s needs within Washington State.   In pre-marriage counseling, I work very diligently to teach this method of communication to new couples and add the language of nonviolent compassionate communications. My spiritual community uses collaboration as how we govern, it takes time but it is well worth the effort, energy and practice.

Which form of resolution do you use most often? Do you enjoy competitive activities? How do you feel when you achieve a collaborative success?  How do you practice?

Related Reading:
How We Make Decisions and Change 
You Are Not Your Brain
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work
7 Steps of How to Learn

You might also enjoy exploring what we have to say at Biking Architect and WiseEars where we teach problem solving  and listening skills

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  1. Davina Haisell Says:

    Where would “agree to disagree” fall in these categories, Patricia?

    I think so many times a situation is seen as one person being right and one being wrong, when there can be grey areas and it’s just a matter of opinion or personal experience.

    In society it seems that there is fear, judgement or a negative connotation with being seen as “wrong” and that’s where things break down.

    I do enjoy competitive activities because they are motivating. I’m also a good game-player as I like the thrill of the sport and I’m happy to play the game whether I win or lose.

    Collaborative success is satisfying. Love it!
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    Patricia Reply:

    agree to disagree appears in both compromise and collaboration efforts of conflict resolution. Then in collaboration, there is another element called “stepping aside” – either in disagreement or one can see the group can move on and it is assumed that the person standing aside will keep pursuing their position.

    We need to relearn to value diversity and many shades…one Buddhist friend always says “All positions are the right one” , then he adds but maybe not for the best solution!

    Fear is a huge problem

    I am not a good game player but my children are and I always join in because I listen to their other conversation as they play.
    My siblings were nasty competitors and I could never get out from under their harassment…I often never started the game or event to avoid their competitive natures

    I can tell that competition motivates you and that you succeed because of it…it challenges you


  2. Talon Says:

    I’m definitely a collaborator by nature. (Probably a learned response to the frustration of having a more competitive type of conflict resolution style with my younger sister when we were growing up – lol)

    Hope you and Zip and all your family have a beautiful Fourth of July, Patricia!
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    Patricia Reply:

    Yes I believe you are a collaborator by nature :)

    My older siblings were so competitive, I just became one who gave up and walked away. As it turns out, I was not a good mediator because of this trait, but I was an excellent teacher to try and assist folks in avoiding trails by fire.

  3. Laurie Buchanan Says:

    I just Google+’d and Tweeted this great post – thank you!

    Patricia Reply:

    Thank you Laurie,
    I wanted to get this post up around the 1st and the 4th where we celebrate government and I wanted to have this information available to link to other posts I write.

    I think it is valuable information to know

  4. June Summers Says:

    Thanks a lot for this post. I am still trying to figure out what I am like when it comes to problem solving and conflict resolution, but most likely I am a collaborator. :)
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    Patricia Reply:

    Hey June,
    Welcome and thank you for your comment. Collaboration takes a great deal of skill and usually training – When I am doing marriage counseling nearly every woman says she does Collaboration when it is really competition and capitulation being nice or manipulative.

    Hope you sell a lot of Kardashian shoes – now there is a family of nasty competitors in the public eye :)
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  5. Chris Edgar Says:

    Hi Patricia — thanks for this — I think it requires a lot of honesty to take a look at where we use each of these styles of conflict resolution in our lives — particularly because I think a lot of Circumvention and Competition often masquerade as Collaboration, or as people just being “nice” or altruistic. It’s useful but confronting to look at what my real motives are in some situations. :)
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    Patricia Reply:

    In my 30 years of mediation and counseling I certainly have heard a lot of people think they were usually collaboration – when they were just being NICE….Our school district has added a conflict resolution class for all 3rd graders, but with little support at home there is little follow through in the day to day problems of living

    Honesty is very much in short supply….I think that might have gone out with CARTER!

    Love you new songs…