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In an area such as conflict resolution, active learning is an important supplement to passive learning and can serve to hone the skills and strategies studied. Skills that involve dealing with people can be improved by conflict resolution games. Although strategies might be devised on paper, in practical situations, they must be constantly revised in response to suggestions, objections or unpredictable behavior from the other party. Conflict resolution games might include role playing personal conflict situations, mock tribunals, mock disciplinary hearings or group discussion of case studies on employment disputes.
Participants in a course might be divided into negotiating teams and given a set of problems to resolve in the course of the negotiations. Different members of each team might be assigned different roles, such as that of the peacemaker, the hard negotiator or the blue skies thinker. Each team might be given a bottom line in the negotiations beyond which they cannot make concessions. Within the parameters given to them, the two teams have the ultimate aim of achieving a solution that constitutes the best possible outcome for both sides.
Dealing with difficult staff situations also can be practiced by means of conflict resolution games. These can be a way for managers to gain experience in dealing with aggressive behavior by staff members or to intervene and resolve bullying or harassment problems between staff members. Participants in a course might be divided into groups and presented with case studies that require decisions on when to inform company management or when to bring in human resources specialists or other experts.
Managers also might find it useful to prepare for a disciplinary hearing by using conflict resolution games. This might involve preparing evidence for a tribunal and presenting the evidence in a clear and impartial manner at a mock tribunal. This can help develop habits such as making notes of conversations and incidents taking place in the workplace. These written records might serve as important evidence in a later tribunal hearing that could be held months after the incidents first began.
Group discussions might take place regarding the best way to deal with staff members in situations in which rules are broken and boundaries are crossed. Managers need to set clear rules for conduct in the office and ensure that they are understood by all staff members. The managers also need to know when to call for help from outside specialists. This type of situation can be discussed in groups or rehearsed in conflict resolution games.
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