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Ryan Dunlap’s C4 Framework for Conflict Resolution

Ryan Dunlap is a conflict strategist. He helps leaders and teams improve how they show up in conflict. He has a background in law enforcement, hostage negotiation, crisis intervention, etc. He went into ministry for a long time before landing in executive leadership.

No matter what room he was in, he saw that people struggled with the same problem: conflict. People are afraid to ask for help navigating conflict. So Ryan took the skills he learned from years in law enforcement work to help leaders resolve conflict within their organizations—and themselves.

Ryan doesn’t hesitate to point out that conflict resolution must begin with self-awareness. How you respond to conflict will positively or negatively impact your interactions with others.

How to gain better self-awareness

Ryan walks his clients through a historical deep-dive of conflict. They identify notable conflict(s) from their past and look at the causations and correlations. It might be with the same person in the same place at the same time of day.

If you tend to be at your worst at the end of the day or at work, it helps you pre-plan how and when to step into conflict. You have to avoid activating your triggers.

Ego depletion is the idea that self-control and willpower draw upon a limited pool of mental resources. We only have so much willpower at any given time, like a battery that depletes.

If we navigate conflict while depleted, we are more likely to do or say something to cause our character to come into question. Why? Because our ability to exercise restraint and self-control will be reduced.

That’s why Ryan coaches his clients to have their most contentious conversations at the beginning of the day. The more difficult decisions you have to make during the day, the less likely you are to make high-quality decisions at the end of the day.

Ryan’s C4 framework for conflict resolution

Ryan teaches his clients the C4 model. It focuses on charactercontrolcomposure, and compassion.

  • Don’t say or do anything that will cause your character to come into question
  • Maintain composure because people are always watching and will adjust themselves to how you show up in the environment
  • Focus on the things that you can control and leave everything else to the other person
  • Be compassionate; Do everything out of care and consideration for the other person/people

If you fail to do those things, you increase the chances of explosive conflict. Gameplan when you’re at your best to step into conflict.

Make people feel safe

We can all think of how something we do or say would make someone feel. So, when you enter into conflict, what feeling do you want the counterparty to feel? How can you emulate that behavior to create that feeling in them?

We can’t control what other people do, but we can control what we put into it. If we focus on doing the right things the right way, then we don’t have to feel personally responsible for bad outcomes. They will happen.

It’s also why Ryan doesn’t believe that healthy conflict exists. Conflict is conflict. If you’re healthy and have healthy practices, you will experience healthy conflict. If you’re unhealthy, you will experience unhealthy conflict.

Learn more about healthy conflict and how it starts with self-awareness in episode #411 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast.