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Honey vs. Vinegar: Resolving Conflict by Showing Respect and Respecting Dignity

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We all have examples of when conflict resolution goes wrong, we yell at the customer service representative at the credit card company, or the cashier snaps at you for bringing 12 items into the "10 items or fewer" checkout lane.

But we know, or we should know, that unpleasant conflict can be handled more adeptly.  A former Milwaukee radio host is adapting a conflict resolution model for law enforcement to help people in other fields better manage these situations.

Ben Merens is with the Milwaukee-based Vistelar Group, which uses a technique called "Verbal Defense and Influence."

“At the heart of 'Verbal Defense and Influence' we are trying to treat people with dignity by showing them respect,” says Merens.

Merens presents five maxims that can be applied to any conflict, establishing conflict management:

1. Listen to others from head to toe.

2. Ask people for their help or cooperation.

3. Explain why.

4. Offer options.

5. Give a second chance.

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Bonnie North
Bonnie joined WUWM in March 2006 as the Arts Producer of the locally produced weekday magazine program Lake Effect.