After taking time to understand the other person’s perspective and sharing your own thoughts and feelings about a conflict, it comes time to look at what you can do to come up with a resolution to the problem that can work for you and the other person. While it seems obvious why the solution should work for you, there are times when we yield to others and generate one-sided solutions that do not meet our own interests. Likewise, there are times when we try to win at all costs even if it means the other person’s interests are disregarded. In both of these cases, the win-lose nature of the outcome jeopardizes the sustainability of the result. The person who lost is going to be less invested in making sure that the resolution works because it doesn’t meet their needs.

While searching for solutions, it becomes important to look for solutions that meet the interests of both parties. The first step to do this is to understand those interests. The next step involves brainstorming to come up with possible options. During the brainstorming it is best to hold off critiquing the options, so that one idea stimulates the next.

Once you have developed a set of options, it is time for the process of reflective thinking. In this phase you review the options generated during the brainstorming session. Weigh the pros and cons of the various ideas that were developed. Look to see if you can find options that would address your interests as well as those of the other person. When you find options that deliver mutual gains, you will have discovered the basis for a sustainable resolution of the problem.