Holiday Conflict

Scheinman Institute offers negotiating tips
Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Which set of grandparents gets dibs on prime time with the tot? Was that cheesy gift a thinly-disguised insult? Could the left and right wings of the family cease and desist?

The season to be jolly seems to invite conflict, but experts from the Cornell ILR School’s Scheinman Institute on Conflict Resolution recommend using workplace negotiating concepts to keep the peace at home and elsewhere this season.

The same workplace conflict resolution tactics the Scheinman Institute teaches students, professionals and organizations can be applied at home to defuse holiday conflict, according to Professor David Lipsky, institute director, and Katrina Nobles, institute education and communications manager.

Tips include:

  • Rely on negotiating – not authority, force or yielding – to resolve most conflicts
  • Listen carefully to what people are saying
  • Don’t interrogate, but ask questions, explore everyone’s needs
  • Remember, transparency is a virtue – better to share opinions than mislead
  • Stay true to your values, but be flexible on everything else
  • Frame a resolution proposal with care, phrasing can have direct impact on outcome
  • Be prepared to address “why?” after presenting your idea, articulate the rationale
  • Be wary of emotions that cloud your judgment
  • Do not attack people personally
  • It’s a journey, not a destination, so think about process, not just outcomes
  • Be patient – it takes times to negotiate, but it’s worthwhile.