Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thoughts on Conflict and Resolution

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a weeklong training workshop on conflict resolution, focusing on negotiation and mediation. One of the presenters is a professor at Sacramento State and also a mover and shaker in the field of mediation (both internationally and domestically). The other presenter is a lawyer who works primarily in arbitration, mediation, and negotiation. It was intense. Each day was packed with information, role plays, and debriefing. There was barely time for breaks and lunch. It took me until Thursday to finally speak up and negotiate (heh!) a more acceptable arrangement. But I'm glad to have gone through this experience.

Here are a few thoughts from the training:
  • What does conflict mean to you? Can conflict lead to positive outcomes?
  • Conflicts tend to fall into general categories, which often overlap. Conflicts can arise over data (information), values, relationship, behavior, or structure (institution or organization). However, while considering which category the conflict may fall under, one should also be aware of one's own perceptions about these categories and how that may affect the conflict.
  • In resolving conflicts, there are five general responses: avoidance, accommodation, competition, compromise, and collaboration. The focus of this workshop was collaboration.
  • During negotiation, people's true interests are rarely articulated. But if you can understand or empathize with where someone is coming from and what interests they are trying to address, you will be more successful in your negotiation.


I am struck yet again by how important it is to collaborate with each other, and to understand (even minimally) where each of us is coming from, and what is important to us. In every process, in every interaction: community and context are keys to how I function in this world.

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