“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
What causes conflict? Each episode of conflict is an opportunity for us to delve into the epicenter of conflict. Conflicts ask us, “How close do people want to be in their relationships? How will power be used and shared? What are their hopes and fears? What are the patterns in their communication and interactions?” Meaningful relationships and connections accompanied by a safe place for dialogue can uncover the underlying issues behind conflicts as well as disrupt cycles of misunderstanding and violence.
Conflict impacts us personally, relationally, structurally, and culturally. It impacts our capacity to perceive accurately.
Conflict mediation aims to minimize poor communication and maximize mutual understanding.
The conflict mediation framework states that peace is rooted in the quality of relationships.
With this service, we can mediate a conflict, a series of conflicts, and/or train participants in how to mediate on their own.
Conflict mediation is a dialogue process that is concerned with equity and balance versus right and wrong. Conflict mediation involves two or more participants and is a voluntary, collaborative communication and problem-solving dialogue.
Participants may: explore patterns of communication that stem from and result in fractured relationships and dynamics; resolve long-standing differences; and/or learn to receive the concerns and feelings of the other participants and empathize with their needs.
In this service, we typically meet separately with all “parties” before running a joint session.
Conflict mediation works best when all parties are willing to participate with an open mind and the desire to move forward.
The mediator provides a framework, objective facilitation, and creates conditions for all voices to be heard in order to find common ground and a clear, productive path forward.
Culture and Conflict:
Whether or not a conflict even exists is a cultural question.
Culture is an essential part of conflict (though does not cause it.) Culture runs deep and shapes our perceptions, judgements, attitudes, and ideas of self and others. Culture can also influence one’s ability to resolve, confront, discuss, or transform conflict.
Culture does not cause conflict but rather influences it.
Culture is multi-layered and knowing certain cultural norms of groups does not predict their behavior. These generalizations are not the whoel story. Essentially, there is no replacement for building relationships, sharing experiences, and maintaining curiosity in order to authentically know others over time.
As it relates to culture, it can be helpful to learn to apply the Platinum Rule, “do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”
Cultural fluency is something to strive for and is defined as, “in its essence, cultural fluency is how communication is influenced by attitudes, body language, customs, and other intangible and often ambiguous aspects of communication that are not easy to perceive. It is complicated, multi-faceted, and multi-disciplinary, and it is generally unconscious.”
Some benefits of this service may include:
Building understanding and awareness of each person’s role in the communication dynamic.
Greater ability to find solutions that satisfy all involved.
Awareness of how mindsets and world views either impede or create connection.
Learning how to resolve or transform a conflict through a specific mediation dialogue process.