Every person has distinctive viewpoints that are equally valid (from where they stand) as the other party involved in the conflict. Each person’s viewpoint makes a contribution to the whole and requires consideration and respect in order to form a complete solution. This wider view can open up the communication transaction possibilities. It may require one party to change their mind chatter that says: “For me to be right, others must be wrong” (Alexelrod, 1984).

To apply conflict resolution skills, individuals need to consider how the problem or the relationship will look over a substantial period of time. Looking at the conflict or problem in question in terms of a longer timeframe can help individuals become more realistic about the consequences of the conflict as well as exploring options to resolve the conflict (Alexelrod, 1984).

People experiencing conflict tend to respond on the basis of their perceptions of the situation, rather than an objective review of it. This is where having a counselling intervention can benefit someone in overcoming their subjective frame of reference. Subsequently, people filter their perceptions (and reactions) through their values, culture, beliefs, information, experience, gender, and other variables. Conflict responses are both filled with ideas and feelings that can be very strong and powerful guides to our sense of possible solutions (Healey, 1995).

As in any problem, conflicts contain substantive, procedural and psychological dimensions to be negotiated. In order to best understand the threat perceived by those engaged in a conflict, all of these dimensions need to be considered. When conflicts arise (or are likely to arise), it is important to develop healthy, functional and positive coping mechanisms to identify them, their consequences, as well as the strategies which can be used to manage them. New opportunities and possibilities may be discovered which in turn will transform the personal conflict into a productive learning experience (Healey, 1995).

Creative problem-solving strategies are essential to the application of positive approaches to conflict resolution. There is great importance in developing the ability to learn how to transform the situation from one in which it is ‘my way or the highway’ into one in which people entertain new possibilities that have been otherwise elusive (Ury, 1988).


  1. Alexelrod, R. M. (1984). The evolution of cooperation. New York: Basic Books.
  2. Healey, K. (1995). Conflict Resolution. Balmain: Spinney Press.
  3. Ury, W. (1988). Getting disputes resolved: Designing systems to cut the costs of conflict. Calif: Jossey-Bass.