Gini Nelson\’s Engaging Conflicts

January 19, 2007

Science and Spirit In 2007 – EngagingConflicts.com

Filed under: Ethics,Spirit,Theory To Practice — Gini @ 5:29 am

Santa Fe, New Mexico is a wonderful place to live for many reasons, including the eclectic mix of what used to be called New Age mysticism (I’m not sure what the current best term might be – the closest I come is quantum mysticism, now) and cutting edge science exemplified by the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), just 45 miles away. When I first moved here, I had to learn some physical and biological science (previously, I had done a masters in sociology, and a law degree) because I was an environmental attorney at the New Mexico Environment Department. I was the primary permitting and enforcement attorney for hazardous and radioactive waste issues, which, in New Mexico, included addressing the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and uranium mill tailings, as well as LANL. I respect science – almost as much as I love the law – and my renamed blog topic category Theory to Practice is meant to facilitate both science education and practical applications of science.

Towards science education, I came across this 2003 Statement on New Mexico Science Education by the Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows which, while not intended as such, gives some background to what science education is.

As to quantum mysticism, I am agnostic about it just as I am to any other religion or religious path. As I said in one of this blog’s introductory posts, Why Speak Of Spirit and Conflict In the Same Breath?:

What’s so engaging about conflict and spirit? First, most people get solace and direction in stressful times through their religious or spiritual beliefs; information that supports or enriches those beliefs (including practice tools) will strengthen that resource when facing conflict. Second, some people are stressed because of questions about religion and/or spirituality that they think arise out of science. But most of us don’t know much about science … what is it? More to the point, how does science help explain our impulses towards religion and spirituality, and how we chose to practice them (including explaining why those impulses can turn to violence and conflict in some circumstances)? Can the areas of science that relate to religion and spirituality help prevent, reduce, contain or resolve conflict?

Some people may experience conflict when confronting an insistence that there is only one way, or even just a best way, to experience and practice religion and/or spirituality — and what they know gives insufficient solace, or is different. Others may watch with confusion how some forms of religion are changing, as we see especially in the United States in the perhaps parallel growths of more fundamentalist mega churches, and post-modern quantum mysticism. Can science help here?

For the rest of that post, just click on the link. I’ve renamed this category Ethics and Spirit.

Remember to move your bookmark to www.EngagingConflicts.com, and while you are there, please subscribe using the RSS button!

December 20, 2006

Holiday Thoughts: Why We Shop, Ethical Shopping, and the Hunger Site — EngagingConflicts.com

Filed under: Ethics,Spirit,Tips, Treats, and Tools — Gini @ 8:39 am

With this rich season of holidays and celebrations, here are some online selections to inform our actions, and aid charitable giving:
“Why We Shop” by Jennifer Michael Hecht (will require a subscription to the New York Times’ Times Select to access): “History suggests that holiday shopping fills an ancient need to gather and tithe, and serves as a modern-day ritual of renewal;”
Some “ethical shopping sites”, thanks to the Thinking Ethics blog; and — my favorite online donation site — The Hunger Site, where “[y]our click helps feed the hungry with the value of 1.1 cups of staple food.” I love this site especially because it also has tabs across the top for donations to The Breast Cancer Site, where “[y]our click, along with others today, will fund free mammograms for women in need;” The Child Health Site, where “[y]our click, along with others’ today, provides basic but critical health services to more than 1,000 children. Each click helps prevent life-threatening diseases, restore vision to blind children, and enable child amputees to walk; The Literacy Site, where “[y]our click, along with others’ today, helps children in need discover the joy of books;” The Rainforest Site, where “[y]our click has funded the preservation of 11.4 square feet of endangered rainforest;” and The Animal Rescue Site, where “[y]our click provided the value of .6 bowls of food and care to a rescued animal in a shelter or sanctuary.”

Just clicking where indicated gives the donation — all you spend is a little time. You can sign up for emailed reminders to visit the site.

REMINDER: this blog is now at EngagingConflicts.com.

November 6, 2006

Engaging Conflicts Today Interview With Ken Cloke

Today’s issue of Engaging Conflicts Today includes the conclusion of Ken Cloke’s interview, and an excerpt of my book review of his new book, The Crossroads of Conflict: A Journey Into the Heart Of Dispute Resolution. The review is being published in full today in the Colorado Council of Mediators November newsletter, and is pending publication in the Peer Bulletin, a monthly newsletter for Peer Resources Network members. If you would like to get both parts of Ken’s interview, and aren’t already a subscriber to Engaging Conflicts Today, please do two things: subscribe to the newsletter, and send an email with “Cloke” in the subject line to gn@gnconflictmanagement.com. You can subscribe through the box provided in the sidebar on the right!

October 16, 2006

Kenneth Cloke’s Locations Of Conflict and Techniques, Part Three

 

Here’s the final piece of Kenneth Cloke’s locations of conflict and related mediation techniques, taken from his new book, The Crossroads of Conflict: A Journey Into the Heart Of Dispute Resolution. Ken’s personal interview begins in this week’s issue of my newsletter, Engaging Conflicts Today — you can subscribe through the box provided in the sidebar on the right!

The remaining locations of conflict (at 71), and some suggested mediation techniques for each ‘by location” (at 78-85):

 

5. In our hearts, where attitudes become closed or open, withholding or forthcoming, self-centered or compassionate, revengeful or forgiving (heart techniques assisting people in engaging in heartfelt conversations and reaching reconciliation, such as asking direct, honest questions that encourage integrity and trust). (Note: according to Ken, this is where the greatest deficit in current models of mediation exists).

6. And in our systems, where cultures, contexts, conditions, and environments become adversarial or egalitarian, competitive or collaborative, autocratic or democratic (systems design techniques that attempt to resolve the systemic, contextual, cultural, and environmental sources of conflict in ways that can prevent future conflicts, such as using dialogue, coaching, and mentoring to alter entrenched behavior patterns).

Ken’s book can be purchased directly from his publisher, Janis Publications, here: http://www.janispublications.com.

October 14, 2006

Kenneth Cloke’s Locations Of Conflict and Techniques, Part Two

 

This continues the excerpt from Kenneth Cloke’s new book, The Crossroads of Conflict: A Journey Into the Heart Of Dispute Resolution, on locations of conflict, with suggested mediation techniques for each:

3. In our emotions, where anger, fear, jealousy, guilt, shame, and grief emanate and strive for release (emotional techniques using a subtle, sensitive, facilitative, empathetic approach, such as searching for emotional triggers).

4. In our spirits, where intentions, energy, life force, or chi become attached, intolerant, or unforgiving (spiritual techniques assisting people to move beyond resolution to forgiveness and increased mindfulness or awareness, such as asking questions that encourage responsibility for intentions, attitudes and choices).

See Monday’s post for the final two locations. Ken’s book can be purchased directly from his publisher, Janis Publications, here: http://www.janispublications.com. I’m interviewing him in the next issue of Engaging Conflicts Today — sign up in the sidebar to the right!

October 13, 2006

Kenneth Cloke’s Locations Of Conflict and Techniques, Part One

 

Kenneth Cloke’s The Crossroads of Conflict: A Journey Into the Heart Of Dispute Resolution, is a book by an experienced mediator about many things, including his conclusions after many years of a rich and varied practice. Ken’s interview begins in the next issue of Engaging Conflicts Today, and he has given permission to excerpt portions of his book here — sign up for the newsletter today through the sidebar on the right!

Here’s part of his list of explanations why we get stuck in conflict, of distinct yet indivisible locations of conflict (at 71), and some suggested mediation techniques for each “by location” (at 78-85):

 

1. In our physical bodies, where stress is internalized and translated into chemicals that prepare us for aggression or defense (physical techniques that pay attention to body language, physical movement, and sensory awareness, such as using body language to counteract aggressive or defensive postures).

2. In our minds, where distinctions and judgments are formed that bolster our positions and justify aggressive or defensive reactions (mental techniques that resolve conflicts mentally, logically, sequentially, and intellectually, such as contracting and agreeing to work toward solutions).

I’ll be posting the rest over the next few days. Ken’s book can be purchased directly from his publisher, Janis Publications, here: http://www.janispublications.com.

October 2, 2006

Kenneth Cloke: Paths To Transcendence, Part Two

Last week I posted the first five of “ten paths to transcendence” identified in Kenneth Cloke’s new book, The Crossroads of Conflict: A Journey Into the Heart Of Dispute Resolution (see last week’s post for the first five and for Ken’s definition of transcendence). Here are the final five:

[Five of the] Ten Paths to Transcendence:

6. Craft a question that asks people to speak and listen directly from their heart

7. Work collaboratively to redesign and reform the cultures and systems that produced or reinforced the conflict.

8. Clarify and reinforce what was learned from the conflict, and use it to improve and evolve to higher levels of conflict and resolution.

9. Move the conversation toward forgiveness and reconciliation.

10. Design and execute a ritual of release, completion, and closure.

Ken’s book can be purchased directly from his publisher, Janis Publications.

September 28, 2006

Kenneth Cloke: Paths to Transcendence, Part One

 

Kenneth Cloke’s new book, The Crossroads of Conflict: A Journey Into the Heart Of Dispute Resolution, is a book by an experienced mediator about many things, including his conclusions after many years of a rich and varied practice. Ken will be interviewed this fall and early winter in Engaging Conflicts Today, and has given permission to excerpt portions of his book here. In his book, he proposes and explores the transcendent mediation style (see this earlier post on styles of mediation, and this earlier post on his definition of transcendence). Here are the first five of his ten paths to transcendence – the final five will be posted next week:

[Five of the] Ten Paths to Transcendence:

 

1. Engage in committed, openhearted listening, as though your life depends on what you are about to hear.

2. Use a spotlight of narrow, focused attention and a floodlight of broad, sweeping awareness to clarify what is taking place beneath the surface.

3. Use dangerous empathy to search for the center of the conflict within yourself, then ask questions to discover whether the same might be true for others.

4. Use dangerous honesty to communicate your deepest understanding to others.

5. Use your heart to locate a heart space in the conversations, then open and expand it.

Ken’s book can be purchased directly from his publisher, Janis Publications.

September 26, 2006

Mediation Styles Include Eclectic

Kenneth Cloke’s new book, The Crossroads of Conflict: A Journey Into the Heart Of Dispute Resolution, is a book by an experienced mediator about many things, including his conclusions after many years of a rich and varied practice. Ken will be interviewed this fall and early winter in Engaging Conflicts Today, and has given permission to excerpt portions of his book here. He identifies seven mediation styles. There is not universal agreement about all of them, and there is dispute about some:

1. Conciliative

2. Evaluative or directive

3. Facilitative

4. Transformative

5. Spiritual, heart-based, or transcendent

6. Systems design

7. Eclectic

I’m especially interested in our thinking more about “eclectic,” or “protean” styles (see this earlier post about Peter Adler’s and Robert Benjamin’s “protean” mediation or negotiation style). People are different, circumstances and settings are different, people are different in different circumstances and settings ….

Ken’s book can be purchased directly from his publisher, Janis Publications: http://www.janispublications.com.

September 21, 2006

Five Philosophical Propositions on Conflict Resolution, Part Two

Kenneth Cloke’s new book, The Crossroads of Conflict: A Journey Into the Heart Of Dispute Resolution, is a book by an experienced mediator about many things, including his conclusions after many years of a rich and varied practice. Ken will be interviewed this fall and early winter in Engaging Conflicts Today, and has given permission to excerpt portions of his book here. Here’s a partial list of philosophical assumptions he makes about conflict — the earlier propositions were posted earlier in the week:

6. Chronic conflicts are systemic, and all systems, be they personal, familial, relational, organizational, social, economic, or political, defend themselves against change, even when it is essential for their survival.

7. Every conflict is holographic and systemic, so that each part contains and recapitulates the whole.

8. Every conflict reveals an internal crossroads, with each path branching and leading off in radically different directions.

9. Every conflict offers opportunities to evolve to higher levels of skill and awareness in how people respond to their opponents and problems.

10. At the center or heart of every conflict lies a pathway to resolution, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

Ken’s book can be purchased directly from his publisher, Janis Publications:

September 19, 2006

Five Philosophical Propositions on Conflict Resolution, Part One

Kenneth Cloke’s new book, The Crossroads of Conflict: A Journey Into the Heart Of Dispute Resolution, is a book by an experienced mediator about many things, including his conclusions after many years of a rich and varied practice. Ken will be interviewed this fall and early winter in Engaging Conflicts Today, and has given permission to excerpt portions of his book here. Here’s a partial list of philosophical assumptions he makes about conflict — the remaining propositions will be posted later in the week:

1. No two human beings are the same.

2. No single human being is the same from one moment to the next.

3. The interactions and relationships between human beings are complex, multidetermined, subtle, and unpredictable, if only because they involve two or more different, constantly changing individuals.

4. Conflicts are even more complex, multidetermined, subtle, and unpredictable.

5. Most conflicts take place beneath the surface, well below the superficial topics over which people are fighting, and often hidden from their conscious awareness.

Ken’s book can be purchased directly from his publisher, Janis Publications: http://www.janispublications.com.

September 14, 2006

Why We Get Stuck In Conflict

Kenneth Cloke’s new book, The Crossroads of Conflict: A Journey Into the Heart Of Dispute Resolution, is a book by an experienced  mediator about many things, including his conclusions after many years of a rich and varied practice. Ken will be interviewed this fall and early winter in Engaging Conflicts Today, and has given permission to excerpt portions of his book here. Here’s his list of explanations why we get stuck in conflict:

Ten Reasons Why We Get Stuck in Conflict:

1.         Conflict defines us and gives our lives meaning.

2.         Conflict gives us energy.

3.         Conflict ennobles our misery.

4.         Conflict safeguards our personal space

5.         Conflict creates intimacy (even if it is only the transient, negative intimacy of fear, rage, attachment and loss).

6.         Conflict camouflages our weaknesses.

7.         Conflict powerfully communicates what we honestly feel (even while it may increase stress and emotional suffering in others).

8.         Conflict gets results (it forces others to heed us).

9.         Conflict makes us feel righteous (by encouraging us to believe we are opposing evil behaviors and rewarding those that are good).

10.       Conflict prompts change (which feels better than impasses and stagnation).

Ken’s book can be purchased directly from his publisher, Janis Publications, here: http://www.janispublications.com.

September 12, 2006

The Crossroads of Conflict, by Kenneth Cloke

Kenneth Cloke’s new book, The Crossroads of Conflict: A Journey Into the Heart Of Dispute Resolution, speaks from a transforming perspective to conflict resolution;in his book, he urges a goal of transcendence. Ken will be interviewed this fall and early winter in Engaging Conflicts Today, and has given permission to excerpt portions of his book here. I’ll start with some easy pieces — some of the basic definitions he uses:

Resolution … means working through the content, or underlying reasons for conflict, and abandoning the old ways of thinking and behaving that led to them. Transformation means altering the contour, form, or shape of the conflict, both within the parties and in their relationships, communications, and perceptions of the issues over which they are fighting. Transcendence means moving beyond form and content to change the context, system, environment, and meaning of the conflict. This implies that the parties have learned how to evolve, outgrown, or rise above what was keeping them stuck, and are now ready to handle a higher level of conflict and order of resolution.

Ken’s book can be purchased directly from his publisher, Janis Publications: http://www.janispublications.com.

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.

August 23, 2006

Transformative Mediation and The Conflict Resolution Center

The fascinating exchange between David River and Rawle Andrews Jr. will continue shortly. In the meantime, I’ll start posts concerning transformative mediation, another “flavor” of mediation. The Conflict Resolution Center (CRC) is the Administrative Office for the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation (ISCT). Kristine Paranica, J.D., Director of the Conflict Resolution Center, serves as Administrative Director and Fellow of the ISCT. Kristine will also be a Guest Blogger, and will be interviewed in Engaging Conflicts Today this fall.

This is from the CRC’s website:
ABOUT THE CONFLICT RESOLUTION CENTER

Conflict Resolution Center homeNorth Dakota , the Peace Garden State, is home to a unique organization whose staff and volunteers offer support and training for those people committed to fostering understanding and peace. The Conflict Resolution Center, located on the campus of the University of North Dakota, is a non-profit community mediation and training organization. The CRC was established in 1988 by a group of UND faculty and staff in order to provide mediation services to the UND campus community. Since its inception, it has expanded its services to meet the growing conflict management needs of its clientele. It now also offers conflict management training/education, mediation training, and facilitation. The CRC is the only community mediation and training center in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana. Its mission statement: To transform the fundamental human experience of conflict by fostering greater understanding and peace.

The CRC is the Administrative Office for the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation (www.transformativemediation.org ). The ISCT is a national think-tank supported by a consortium of universities including the University of North Dakota, Hofstra Law School, Temple University, and James Madison University. Kristine Paranica, Director, serves as Administrative Director and Fellow; member James Antes, Ph.D., serves as Fellow; and member Daniel Bjerknes serves as an Associate of the Institute. The Institute provides the premier resources for the theory and practice of Transformative Mediation in the world.

March 29, 2006

Why Speak of Spirit and Conflict In the Same Breath?

Filed under: Spirit — Gini @ 7:51 pm

What’s so engaging about conflict and spirit? First, most people get solace and direction in stressful times through their religious or spiritual beliefs; information that supports or enriches those beliefs (including practice tools) will strengthen that resource when facing conflict.

Second, some people are stressed because of questions about religion and/or spirituality that they think arise out of science. But most of us don’t know much about science … what is it? More to the point, how does science help explain our impulses towards religion and spirituality, and how we chose to practice them (including explaining why those impulses can turn to violence and conflict in some circumstances)? Can the areas of science that relate to religion and spirituality help prevent, reduce, contain or resolve conflict?

Some people may experience conflict when confronting an insistence that there is only one way, or even just a best way, to experience and practice religion and/or spirituality — and what they know gives insufficient solace, or is different. Others may watch with confusion how some forms of religion are changing, as we see especially in the United States in the perhaps parallel growths of more fundamentalist mega churches, and post-modern quantum mysticism. Can science help here?

Finally, how some practice their religion is itself increasingly the source and cause of stress, exclusion and violence in the world, including in the United States, from terrorism in the name of a god (including 9/11 and the bombing of abortion clinics) to fundamentalist political activism and political regulation in response to fears about religious divisiveness (e.g., recent US fundamentalist activism and some countries’ banning of headscarves and other religion-identifying clothing).

All of us are confronted by these new realities. Understanding better why people’s religious beliefs can drive them to actions that are considered extreme by many, can itself help reduce the stress of living in a world subject to those actions; and may help in developing additional tools for working towards solutions.

Sometimes, one can fear that these are the days of “the new religious wars,” and that the advances in critical thinking exemplified in part by the best of science will be thrown over and out — but this won’t happen. Really, the vast majority of people do trust science, and don’t believe all the tenets of their religions literally — most happily fly in airplanes (they trust science) and do not kill people of opposing religious beliefs. We can celebrate and be excited by the opportunities to learn more about science, our humanity, and spirituality.

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