Recently I reviewed Princess Academy by Shannon Hale, a recent addition to my favourite authors. One of the things that I most remember about Princess Academy is the Rules of Diplomacy that Hale came up with and used to great effect in one scene. (Led by the main character, Miri, the girls of the academy defy their tutor and return home for their village’s spring holiday. On returning they negotiate an improved relationship with the tutor for the rest of the academy’s term.)

Rules of Diplomacy

  1. Build on common ground
  2. State the problem
  3. Admit your own error
  4. State the error of the other party
  5. Propose specific compromises
  6. Invite mutual acceptance
  7. Illustrate the negative outcome of refusal and positive of acceptance
  8. Assert a deadline for acceptance

I think most people don’t really know how to deal with conflict; I certainly would prefer to avoid rather than face conflict! Unfortunately, changing from a head-in-the-sand attitude to a mature person who can deal with the tough situations head on, is easier said than done. I find Shannon Hale’s Rules of Diplomacy to be a really good guideline for dealing with conflict.

I think one of the most important rules is ‘admit your own error’. Importantly, it comes before ‘state the error of the other party’.  How often do you want someone to apologize first, making it easier for you to say ‘Well, I didn’t behave very well either, I’m sorry’?

All I need to do now is practise consistently applying these rules to my life. That’s definitely easier said than done!

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