||A Powerful Resource for
Managing Conflict in a Pluralistic
A New View on Conflict
Conflict is an inevitable and important
part of our pluralistic and changing community. It propels us forward.
Inherent in all conflict is a creative tension that has the power
to resolve, to change, and to transform. This is the dynamic potential
of conflict, that its energy can be directed creatively, as well
as destructively. Conflict, itself, is neither positive nor negative.
Rather, it is the acts and outcomes of conflict that are experienced
as either good or bad. With the appropriate skills and understanding,
we can learn how to resolve disputes that arise from conflict in
a way that strengthens and builds our relationships and our community.
What are the Alternatives in a Dispute or Conflict Situation?
When a dispute arises, the path that is chosen affects
the solution. For example, rights-based systems, such
as courts or hearings, can be costly in time and emotion;
they are often inefficient; they produce a winner and
a loser; and they are adversarial, hurting relationships
and making it more difficult to re-enter the workplace,
classroom, or living environment. Avoiding, ignoring,
or living with a problem situation can also be costly,
since unresolved problems usually lead to an escalation
of differences; relationships are hurt and productivity
is affected. Mediation can provide a fair and efficient
alternative that helps strengthen relationships, increases
productivity, and preserves the respect and dignity
- avoiding, ignoring, or living with the problem
- forcing external intervention by waiting for matters to come to a head
- going to mediation
- going to arbitration
- using a rights-based system, such as court or hearing