Your approach to conflict resolution can largely determine the outcome. For this reason preparation, with an eye toward understanding both sides of the issue, is key. William Ury, co-founder of the Program on Negotiation at Harvard University, stresses the importance of preparation for negotiation and conflict resolution.
Most negotiations are won or lost even before the talking begins, depending upon the quality of the presentation. People who think they can "wing it" without preparing often find themselves sadly mistaken. Even if they reach agreement, they may miss opportunities for joint gain they might well have come across in preparing. There is no substitute for effective preparation. The more difficult the negotiation, the more intensive your preparation needs to be.
Before you address any conflict, you need as much information as possible. You need to know what is true and what information is missing. You need to be keenly aware of your worldview and how it influences your perspective on the situation, what psychologists call "cognitive bias." You need to understand your emotions and how they are affecting your decisions. In addition, you should know the other person's position on these points, as well. Try to empathize with the other person. How would she describe the problem and the history of what's going on between you? What are her cognitive biases, as best you can predict? How is she likely to be feeling? However unattractive the prospect may seem at the time, it's crucial to make an honest attempt at seeing the conflict from the other person's perspective.
William Ury, Getting Past No: Negotiating Your Way from Confrontation to Cooperation, rev. ed. (New York: Bantam Books, 1993), 16.