The following table is based on notes from a mediation workshop, sponsored by volunteers in Arts Resolution with Texas Accountants and Lawyers for the Arts (713-526-TALA or toll-free outside of Houston: 1-800-526-TALA). The chart is a visual reminder of four basic ways that individuals may respond to conflict:

* by ACCOMMODATING (seeking "Your Way")
* by COMPETING (seeking "My Way")
* by AVOIDANCE (seeking "No Way")
* by COLLABORATING (seeking "Our Way").

* Moving UPWARD toward the TOP of the chart STRENGTHENS the relationship
* Moving DOWNWARD toward the BOTTOM of the chart weakens relationships
* Moving to the LEFT of the chart loses the goal
* Moving to the RIGHT helps to ACHIEVE goals.

"Your Way"

"Our Way"

^ build ^ UP ^ relations ^


--> achieve > goal > RIGHT >

<-- lose < goal < LEFT <--

v break v DOWN v relations v

"No Way"

"My Way"

  • The first step in mediation is to bring together the people with equal standing to make decisions necessary to resolve the conflict.

  • The second step is for parties in conflict to state their opinions, uninterrupted, on how they feel about the problem, thus acknowledging their individual thoughts and concerns.

  • The third step is for the parties to move toward the CENTER, toward feeling safe and secure in communications instead of being afraid of "compromise". This may involve acknowledgement of mutual faults, concerns, and goals, in answering the question "What would you like to see happen here?"

  • The fourth step is to move UPWARD toward "BUILDING the relationship" and to the RIGHT toward "ACHIEVING goals" in order to reach the top right corner: "COLLABORATION" or "OUR WAY". In this manner, the parties involved equally win, and no one really "compromises" anything except their fear of confrontation.


    The following came from a presentation at South Main Baptist Church by a Christian marriage counselor and guest lecturer. I find that this information can apply to any relationship, whether personal or professional:

  • Compromise means "meeting in the middle of what both people already think is the middle"
  • Try to get your "inner children" to play together. Everyone can be conditioned by their family upbringing to have different expectations on roles in relationships (i.e., mother/father, parent/child, husband/wife). Partners may not understand each other's needs unless they are told. Just because you love each other doesn't mean you can read each other's minds! Instead of saying "if you loved me, you would know" tell the person what you need.
  • Don't be surprised or afraid if your marriage goes through "desert" phases, where you experience periods of separation and emotional "drought" until you cycle back around and meet again. Give yourself space to work on things privately during these times. Don't let guilt or fear prevent you from making the most of your quiet time.
  • Set up a "date" to fight. Instead of trying to argue logically when both people are emotionally charged and under time constraints, agree to reschedule for a more convenient time, and then stick to that commitment.
  • Remember that the more successful marriages involve partners who are neither excessively happy or excessively miserable, but just comfortable enough to be satisfied.

    NOTE: Volunteer coordinators of Dialogue: Racism, sponsored by the Center for the Healing of Racism, also recommend that when discussing sensitive emotional or personal issues, to speak in terms of "I feel [this way]" instead of making generalizations or assumptions using "always" or "never". By verbally acknowledging one's own feelings and perceptions, these can be expressed freely without being perceived as a personal attack or accusation by someone else. Click here for more on CHR's "Guidelines For Sharing".

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