How to Facilitate Mutual Understanding and Conflict Resolution

Six Thinking Hats
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Gary Wong
Consultant, Canada

How to Facilitate Mutual Understanding and Conflict Resolution

Conflict resolution means the reduction, elimination, or termination of opposing views. Interest-based negotiation and mutual bargaining are win-win conflict resolution methods.
Donít feel that a conflict must be necessarily resolved. Not all conflict is bad. It can be a healthy divergent action, exploring a wide range of thinking as long as the conversation is focused on ideas and not people.
Six Thinking Hats sequences can be effectively used by a facilitator to put the participants into the right frame of mind using the power of Parallel Thinking.

A suggested hat sequence is: Blue, White, Yellow, Black, Red, Blue:
  • [Blue hat]: Set the goal to gain understanding of different perspectives and the amount of time allotted for the session.
  • [White hat]: Share as much relevant information as needed to define the conflict. The opposing views may be an either/or situation or a few identified with a range.
  • [Yellow hat]: Identify the positives in each view. Surface and appreciate the paradigms that underpin each view.
  • [Black hat]: Raise objections and the impacts of negative consequences. Confirm that each person understands the concerns expressed. Go beyond simple head nodding; ask advocates to state in their own words what are the negatives. The aim is understanding, not agreement. Itís okay to agree to disagree.
  • [Red hat]: At this stage invite each person to express emotional feelings about the thinking. Do a quick vote on any process improvements suggested.
  • [Blue hat]: Map out the next steps as a hat sequence.
Depending on the outcomes, the next hat sequence may include a Green hat to explore new views and possibilities that emerged. One indicator of progress is a readiness to converge and move into win-win resolution. A request for third party mediation or arbitration is a signal more parallel thinking work is required.

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Gary Wong
Consultant

Six Thinking Hats
Knowledge Center



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