His academic advisor is an engineering professor who is in better position than I to put this problem into perspective.
In my apartment complex, the rear area of the building is an unused open lot that the property owner has agreed to allow tenants to use for parking their vehicles for no charge, but at their own risk. Access to the rear area is by a narrow passage way that is approximately as wide as a single car. Last month, one tenant's car was stolen from this area and the next night, another tenant began purposely parking his van in the passage way to block access to and from the parking area at night. His window overlooks the passage way but not the parking area itself. My schedule sometimes requires me to have access to my car after midnight but the security system put in place by my neighbor made it impossible for me to come and go at night. When I explained this to my neighbor he suggested that I just leave my car on the street. I responded angrily and told him that he has no authority to make rules for the use of the parking area and that he had no right to block the passage way or to tell other tenants when they were allowed to access the parking area.
My goal was conflict resolution which I tried to achieve by telling him that his choice was to decide whether or not he wanted to leave his cars back there or on the street and that I had already notified the landlord of the problem and that I would be calling the police to have his van towed the next time it was blocking the passage way.
Power Dynamics Analysis in this situation, I should have been more aware of the power dynamics associated with the fact that the neighbor involved was a very long-term tenant who had live in the building for 20 years whereas I had only recently moved into the building. Despite the fact that I was completely justified in terms of the actual circumstances, it is understandable that the other tenant may have viewed it at least partly as a matter of his seniority of tenancy.
The range of strategies for resolving this conflict includes sensitivity to apparent perceptions and expectations on one end to completely ignoring everything except the strict issues of legal rights and logical analysis of the situation on the other end. By choosing the strictly legal/logical approach the first time, I may have erred, making it more difficult than necessary to resolve the situation. Likewise, I neglected to consider how important it was to resolve the matter in a way that would not make it more difficult to maintain good neighborly relations with the individual involved afterwards.
Ultimately, the approach I took was unproductive in the larger sense, even if it solved the problem of keeping the parking lot passage way open at all times so that all tenants had equal access to it. The personal and cultural implications of my approach could be establishing a reputation of being a difficult person, despite the fact that I may have been right in my position. A different strategy could very well have enabled me to achieve the same solution without the same hurt feelings and remaining antagonism.
Identifying, Choosing, and Evaluating the Effects of a Different Strategy much better strategy would have been to approach the neighbor less confrontationally instead of letting my strategy be dictated by knowing that I was right.
By choosing the strategy of demanding that he stop using his van to prevent unauthorized access to the area by strangers, I made it unnecessarily difficult to resolve the conflict amicably.
If presented with the identical situation again, I would have first expressed that I understood the reason for his actions completely. At the same time, I would have asked whether we could possibly come up with alternative solutions that accomplished his objectives without inconveniencing other tenants who needed to use the passage way at night. I would say something like: "Bob, I totally understand what you're doing but I was wondering whether we could possibly come up with another solution. You see, I sometimes need to come and go way too late to disturb you to move your van but I don't want to have to leave my car on the street where it is more vulnerable to theft." would expect him to respond something like this: "Well, I'm not sure what you have in mind, but OK, what would you suggest?" At that point, I would have proposed several different solutions, such as (1) using my car instead of his to block the passage way since I am the only one who uses the parking area so late; (2) parking all the cars he wishes to protect in one corner of the lot and using his van to block only that area instead of the whole passage way; and (3) collecting contributions from all the tenants who parked in the rear to install a locking gate with the landlord's permission.
Regardless of the fact that his initial solution was very selfish and inappropriate, my response created resentment that may last into the long-term. By adopting the different strategies outlined above, I could have achieved the same satisfactory solution without antagonizing my neighbor. The positive rapport established by those alternate strategies would have improved our neighborly relationship…