I think that part of the problem in the lack of preparation, is that "conflict resolution" strategies have typically been identified as a "touchy-feely" approach to "business" and, bottom line "business" needs to be cut and dry to show profits and succeed. I'm not sure why educational leadership training programs haven't valued the psychosocial disciplines and theories that help explain human behavior. After all, aren't we in the "business" of people (ie. students)? I think Petersen said it best when he described the common assumption that we (administrators) would just pick it up as we go along (learn by doing???). Obviously, this doesn't just happen.
In summarizing these readings on conflict, many key words have stuck in my mind:
*Seek to understand
*Concentrate on needs
*Be a reflective listener
*Encourage open dialogue
*Recognize and Respect: ideas, opinions, suggestions
Understanding that we are "emotional beings in a social setting" requires us to be student's of human behavior. It requires us to look through the lens of emotional/social development and make necessary changes and adjustments to our attitude, beliefs and behavior.
I feel that taking on a leadership role requires humility, respect for individuals, and a whole lot of courage! It is usually "me" that does the most changing and that doesn't always feel that great. But, the benefits of a relational, team-oriented work environment can be a wonderful pay off. Working with people takes work. The work must begin with me. I cannot afford to be stuck in my ways or closed off to new ideas. I cannot maintain the "status quo." I must be a front runner for effective changes and pass the ball to my teammates along the way (N & T metaphor with Rugby) as we progress toward the goal of our organization.