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Saturday
Apr012006

Conflict Evolution for groups and Organizations

Here are some options to consider.  The order is intentional, however, I can imagine opportunities to use the strategies out of the sequence below:

Self-Connection  (Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me...)

1.  Be awake to the presence of conflict. The uncomfortable feelings you notice in your body are the first indicator of conflict.  The sooner you catch the emergence of a conflict, the easier it will be to transform.
    This means moving toward a mindfulness of physical sensations, emotions and feelings in the body.  These feelings, when uncomfortable, can be a clue to the presence of conflict.

2.  When you notice conflict, STOP, and breathe.

3.  Set an intention to connect with the feelings and needs at the heart of the conflict.  Work to create and maintain an empathic connection with your self.
    If you are not able to connect, try connecting with the observation, the trigger.  See if that fosters self-connection.
        Notice specifically what you have heard or seen that is stimulating your uncomfortable feelings...
    Consider, what is most important to you right now that is just yours, not about the other person or the situation?

4.  If you cannot yet connect with your feelings and needs, "enjoy the jackal show."  This means to be curious and bring mindfulness to your self-talk.   (This is an inside job!)
    If you can connect your feelings to your needs, skip to #6.
    If it is hard to separate your feelings and needs from your judgments of yourself or someone else, write down all your judgments.

5.  Translate and transform the jackal messages into feelings and needs.  (If you need help, ask an empathy buddy!)
When you have exhausted all your judgments, go back and read each judgment one at a time, asking yourself after each one "What is most important to me about this?"  Continue to ask yourself that question in relation to a specific judgment you have written until you have come to something really basic like:  safety, peace, caring, connection, belonging.  These are our basic universal human needs.

6.  Connect with the beauty of the need and celebrate.  Be awake to the presence of shift.  (Shift means that you notice that your feelings are more "open" and less "constricted".  In the absence of shift, consider repeating steps 1-6.

Stay with the essential beauty and meaning of each need before going on to the next judgment.  Notice the shifting of emotion as you hold this beauty and meaning of the need and realize its importance in your and everyone's life.

Expressing Honesty and Receiving Empathically  (let us walk with each other...)

7.  When you are ready to sincerely connect with the other (s) involved in the conflict, connect with what feelings and needs that might have motivated the behavior you didn't like that seemed to lead to the conflict.
When you have some inner understanding  arising from self-empathy, turn your attention to the other person(s) in the conflict.  Ask yourself the same question about them:  "What is most important to this person about this?"  Follow your answers with the same question until you are able to connect with the basic human needs and humanity of the other person.
 
8.  If conflict still seems present, invite the other into a dialog or mediation.  Use empathy and honesty to foster mutual understanding.  
Keep your focus on listening with some understanding of what is important to all of us and make the bridge of understanding by expressing these needs, yours and theirs, and asking the other person to reflect yours.  Make clear and present requests following your honest expressions.
Utilize "classical giraffe" as necessary to slow the process down and focus consciousness on connection.  Work together to evolve a strategy that everyone is willing to try to resolve or transform the conflict situation.

The Protective Use of Force
 
9.  If all attempts in this Conflict Evolution Process do not contribute to meeting the needs uncovered in the exploration above, the designated leader will intervene with an intention of connection and protection.

Jim Manske

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