Gini Nelson\’s Engaging Conflicts

September 4, 2006

Engaging and Transforming Conflict — Different Conflict Orientations

Bernie Mayer in his influential book Beyond Neutrality: Confronting the Crisis in Conflict Resolution, differentiates between two orientations to conflict — engaging with it, and using it to seek transformation in the disputants. By the title of this blog, you could correctly guess that I think first of engaging, not transforming, conflict. In my judgment, Bernie’s conclusion is true in most circumstances: “I believe effective conflict interventions can result in the transformation of individuals and groups, but I do not think that there is any way to take this on as a primary goal of a conflict specialist without imposing our values and purposes on disputants.”

Mediator David River and attorney Rawle Andrews Jr. conclude their guest posts tomorrow (search the Those “Other “Conflict Specialists category for their 6+ week exchanges) – at least for now. Reread them, and the comments to them, with Bernie’s different conflict orientations in mind. Share your comments, publicly in the blog, or to me privately! In the meantime, on Wednesdays, I’ll continue the series on transformative mediation. It may help those of us more focused on engaging conflict to better understand the perspectives of our colleagues more focused on transformation. I hope it educates us all in helpful ways. In addition to facilitating Kristine Paranica, J.D.’s guest posts, I’ll excerpt parts of Kenneth Cloke’s new book, The Crossroads of Conflict: A Journey Into the Heart Of Dispute Resolution. Both Kristine and Ken will be interviewed this fall and early winter in Engaging Conflicts Today, as will Bernie Mayer.

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