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A Powerful Resource for
Managing Conflict in a Pluralistic
Changing Community

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?
  • avoiding, ignoring, or living with the problem
  • forcing external intervention by waiting for matters to come to a head
  • protesting
  • going to mediation
  • going to arbitration
  • using a rights-based system, such as court or hearing
     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 of
each party.