Simultaneously one of the most important and least popular practices that any HR department has to master is the art of conflict resolution—emphasis on the important. We’re all human beings, which means that, at some point or another, we’re going to run into disagreements. Even more so, we also all carry a bit of pride with us. This isn’t entirely bad per se, but it can make resolving conflict difficult. None of us want to be wrong about anything, but when it comes to conflict, recognizing who is in the wrong and how is how we get to a resolution, even if it’s uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done. Conflict can be clean-cut, but it can also be convoluted and ambiguous, especially if there are misunderstandings. This makes finding a solution difficult to navigate, especially when the conflicting parties aren’t communicating clearly. Even less fortunate is that, in the workplace, this sort of conflict can affect everything and everyone: from coworkers and customers to productivity and performance. Clearly, this risk beckons for a mechanism through which conflict resolution can be a healthy and effective path back towards harmony. Luckily, certain Hawai’ian practices might just be able to help us out.
Applying Ho’oponopono To Conflict Resolution
What is hawaiian philosophy of ho’oponopono? Ho’oponopono [ho’o-pō’-nŏ-pō’-no] roughly translates to “moving things back into balance,” and is the Hawai’ian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. It can manifest in a variety of settings, from family conflicts to legal disputes, but it always involves a process of recognizing wrong-doings and navigating the harm done in order to restore harmony. The process, usually, is both simple and enlightening. In the instance of a family dispute, for example, consider the two conflicting family members. A third family member (or somebody close to the family) acts as an intermediary, or guide, between the two parties. This member helps navigate what the two parties are feeling and what they say, being careful to keep the waters calm and not letting emotional discharge turn into insults and accusations.
This intermediary must not only understand and interpret what each party intends to express, but must also trace the conflict in order to find and understand its origin and how such grievances came to form. This process is enlightening for everybody involved, and is important in coming to close the conflict between the disagreeing parties. In fact, in order to close the conflict, the wrongdoer must verbalize an apology for the exact grievance committed and ask for forgiveness. It’s important to note that this closure is two-part, for not only must the grievance be recognized, but the wronged party must be ready to forgive and move on. While this is again easier said than done, it is important to remember that forgiveness can be easier than having to carry on the weight of blame.
It might seem a little far-fetched to bring this into an HR setting, but the parallels are truly immediate, especially when the conflict might be affecting others. When the issue isn’t very clear, having a third party help navigate the conflicting stories and emotions can help keep everybody calm while making important strides to end the conflict. Furthermore, the two-ended process of reconciliation requires both parties to be able to move on from the conflict which, in the workplace, would translate to leaving bad-for-morale grudges behind. It almost seems like a solution that’s too good to be true, but many professionals with impressive credentials suggest Ho’oponopono as an outside-the-box mechanism for easing rocky employee relations.
Ultimately, however, this is compatible with other business-friendly Hawaiian principles that we’ve discussed. At the end of the day, we’re looking to restore balance and harmony, and to continue with our professional relationships righteously. This, of course, is what Living Pono is all about.
Living Pono is dedicated to communicating business management concepts with Hawaiian values. Founded by Kevin May, an established and successful leader and mentor, Living Pono is your destination to learn about how to live your life righteously and how that can have positive effects in your career. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or contact us here. Also, join our mailing list below, so you can be alerted when a new article is released.
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