Conflict Transformation

2018 Handbook: Conflict Transformation

When you use “Peace and Power” processes, differences of opinion and even conflict are welcomed, and viewed as an opportunity for growth and better understanding.  In addition everyone in the group makes a commitment to address tensions, annoyances or misgivings as soon as they are felt so that these early signs do not reach a point of difficult conflict.

Anyone who senses a tension has the responsibility to take time to gather thoughts and emotions, and prepare the following critical reflection to bring before the group:

  • I feel … focus on your own feelings without blaming others
  • When (or about) … describe factually what happened when your feelings came to the surface.
  • I want .. describe what you envision happening next, even if it seems impossible to happen.
  • Because … name the value or the principle of solidarity that you share with the group.

You can use this guideline to introduce the possibility for addressing conflict in any context – your family, at work, or in a community of friends.  When you use the guideline in a group that has made a commitment to use “Peace and Power,” once you express your critical reflection, the group shifts into a process of addressing the issue, or sets a time and place to do so in the near future.

If the tensions reach of level of conflict with emotions running high, conflict transformation depends on the following group habits:

  • Rotating leadership, so that everyone in the group has experience in taking leadership in the discussion. The people most directly involved in the conflict step back so that they can listen and reflect on what others perceive, with others facilitating constructive discussion.
  • Regular “closing” so that everyone has practiced using critical reflection in the relatively “safe space” of closing, and everyone in the group understands that critical reflection is welcomed as an opportunity for growth and change.
  • Habits that nurture honoring diversity in the group.  These habits include checking in and closing where everyone is heard and recognized as an individual within the group.  Consistent habits of “rotating chair” during discussion provides regular practice of hearing all points of view, and respectfully listening to each person’s point of view.  

Conflict Transformation is the most difficult challenge of “Peace and Power.”  It requires practice, and developing habits in daily life that build the skills of conflict transformation.  It requires a clear commitment to personal discipline, and actions that are deliberately shaped by explicit values that nurture peace.

See Chapter 10 in the 8th Edition for more detail.

Last updated March 19, 2013

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