I have crafted a new presentation of the Creative Conflict Resolution
material in the wake of the publication of Just Conflict and had my first chance to try it out
Friday, January 15 at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University.
My biggest worry was that I had too much material but we ended exactly on time
and I was able to get all of the information it at sufficient depth that I am
pretty sure most of the attendees got most of the concepts.
The evaluations indicated a high level of satisfaction with the content and my skills as a presenter. Curiously the item that was most often named as the best component of the workshop--the Orders of Self--was also the component that was most often named as the least valuable. [Only about half of the participants completed that portion of the form.]
Most of the content of the workshop seemed to meet attendees where they were and move them forward. There were a couple of things I am saying that some folks found hard to hear.
- We don't need to make others change to resolve conflict: Most of us know that we can't make others change, especially other adults. But we don't know that we can resolve a conflict we are having with them without setting out to change them. This was really hard for some folks to get.
- Being uncomfortable is not a bad thing: Of course we want to avoid feeling bad. But the presence of bad feelings, like the ones we often have when we are in conflict with others, are the source of energy which fuels transformation. Trying "make ourselves feel better" often results in missing opportunities for growth.
I will be presenting it again next Friday, January 22, 2010 for the St. Louis EAP Association at the Hyland Center. I am going to reorder two of the slides and I want to have a couple slides handy which are not in the presentation to refer to as issues come up in discussion. Otherwise I will leave it as it is.
With a fifteen minute break and 45 minutes of case presentation the whole event lasts three hours. Without those components it will comfortably fit into two hours and there are some parts that are especially relevant to an audience of psychotherapists which can be shortened or left out completely. The bare bones of the workshop could be done in an hour and a half.
The presentation begins with a consideration of the presence of conflict in our own lives. Each participant is invited to identify a personal conflict which they can hold in mind as we explore the concepts of the workshop. We then look at just what we might mean by "conflict" and in what sense the resolution of conflict is a creative act. We identify some of the ways that we are all resolving conflict everyday but also note that, from time to time, we encounter conflicts we can't yet resolve. We flinch. We back off of addressing the conflict for some very good reasons but by doing so we miss the creative potential the conflict offers. This is roughly the first hour of the presentation.
In the remaining time we look at some specific philosophical and practical maps for understanding conflict and its resolution and then apply these maps to our current life situations whether in family, at work, or in international relations.
I will no doubt continue to revise and adapt this presentation. I am looking for more venues in which to present it.