If you want to shrink something,
you must first allow it to expand.
If you want to get rid of something,
you must first allow it to flourish.
~ Tao Te Ching (36)
The skills I use and teach in Constructive Conflict Consulting relate to conflict as a natural and inevitable force. My approach considers that conflict presents such a problem mainly because of avoidance and lack of skill. In my practice, conflict is not, in and of itself, a calamity. Rather, what conflict becomes when it’s left to fester, is the disaster; the damage wrecked when truths, distorted by suppression, seep out ~ or explode, this is conflict gone mishandled.
When conflict is welcomed to open, and its patterns studied and mastered, the familiar scripts of alienation and chaos transform. Conflict itself becomes a powerful tool to facilitate greater self-awareness, more authentic and connected relationships, and sustainable resolutions in legal disputes and organizational challenges.
In my personal and professional experience I’ve found that every dispute has its own nature, informed by one or more critical points of contention or “disturbances.” Drawing particularly on Process Work Psychology developed by Dr. Arnold Mindell, I work with all parties to help unfold the course of a conflict. Disturbances are the clues, always existing for important reasons. In constructive conflict oriented therapy, mediation and large group facilitation I apply specific listening, tracking, and strategic intervention skills to these disturbance clues. The result can be remarkable transformation.
Going through a constructive conflict process may also expand the definition of a successful outcome. Quite often all parties emerge from a constructive conflict intervention with a more favorable material outcome than they were previously facing. Additionally, by relating to the broader nature of a conflict, constructive conflict participants are also introduced to a fuller experience of themselves.
Readings Inspiring Constructive Conflict Practice
All About Love: New Visions, bell hooks, Ph.D.
Banished Knowledge: Facing Childhood Injuries, Alice Miller, Ph.D.
Sitting in the Fire: Using Conflict and Diversity for Large Group Transformation, Arnold Mindell, Ph.D.
The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values, and Spiritual Growth, M. Scott Peck, M.D.
Passionate Marriage: How to Keep Love and Intimacy Alive in Committed Relationships, David Schnarch, Ph.D.