If you can’t get people to do anything, how to you resolve conflicts.

In my leadership training on conflict resolution, I have the participates conduct a closed fist exercise.  The participants pair off.  One forms a fist and the other has three minutes to convince them to open their fists.

In the debriefing time we discuss how they managed to convince the other to open their fists.   The usual results:

·     Bribery—”I’ll give you five dollars if you open your fist.”

·     Concern—”It doesn’t matter to me if you open your fist, but unless you do you won’t be able to pick anything up.”

·     Persuasion—”I like your hands better open than closed.”

·     Interest—”I’m curious to see what’s inside your fist.”

·     Straightforwardness—”Hey, open your fist!”

The point of this exercise is to remind all of us that we can’t make people do anything they don’t want to do. If you ask anyone to do something and they refuse, you can’t force them to do it.

Naturally, if they are an employee, you can fire them, but you can’t force them to do it.  The bottom line is you can’t coerce someone to do something.  Ultimately, you can only empower yourself. Then, within boundaries, you can encourage others to act in certain ways.

**For the last decade I’ve been involved with leadership development of tomorrow’s leaders.  Using my expertise, I am training the youth leaders in conflict resolution.  This blog is adapted from my training materials. 


Ken StrongmanAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

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