Conflict Resolution

Have you ever been in the middle of a sticky situation that you are unable to get out of?

How do you get yourself out of the situation?

I have spent many hours in conflict resolution training as part of my various jobs as a music therapist. This has gone along with training on workplace violence, blood-borne pathogens, and many other topics. Of all the training that I have had over my 18 years of music therapy, I think that conflict resolution training has been the most valuable of them all.

I work with children and adolescents that are under-served, unserved, or difficult to serve. They often show up at our facility in full combat mode - fighting over everything. Any question you ask is answered with a resounding "NO!" There is a conflict with any suggestion, any experience, anything that is perceived to be something that will lead to a fight.

In my music therapy sessions, clients are allowed to refuse to participate. I do not mind.

I know that music is not always a happy experience for my students, so I expect that they stay awake and respect others as they participate, but no one is forced to do more than they want to do. I refuse to make participation a conflict situation. If someone wants to participate, fine. If not, fine.

I am also a good manipulator. I say that with a bit of shame and lots of pride. I offer my clients the opportunity to refuse to participate, but I also try to make my interventions so interesting and engaging that they will participate. It is rare that a client will spend all of the time refusing to participate or trying to engage me in a conflict.

I can do these things with my clients, but I find it much more difficult to do with my co-workers. I am currently practicing for a confrontation with a co-worker who does not appear to understand me or my level of professionalism at all. I have brought my supervisor into the discussion since I do not feel comfortable with the conflict or with my co-worker. I have been practicing my "I-statements." The discussion will occur this week, and I think I am ready.

Why is it that I am able to do the things that I have learned with my clients, but not with this co-worker??? Sigh. More practice with my conflict resolution skills to come.


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