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A "Breakthrough" Approach

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An interview with Dr. Mark Lee Robinson about the applications of Creative Conflict Resolution to large scale conflict.

Why is your approach to conflict resolution a breakthrough?

My principles of Creative Conflict Resolution represent a major shift in our point of view. Even experts--people who have wrestled professionally with the problems of conflict resolution--need a new perspective toward the creative possibilities inherent in conflict, rather than simply offering the usual techniques to mediate it.

We need to redefine what we mean by conflict? How so?

We normally define conflict as what happens when parties with opposing interests start trying to dominate each other. For example, we may have a problem when someone in the office is not reloading paper into the copier when it runs out, but we decide not to say anything to him because we "don't want to start a conflict." Or we know there were deep hostilities between Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda stemming from the colonial era, but we speak of the conflict starting in 1994 when Hutus began "cutting down the tall trees." 

Emotions: Feeling your Feelings

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Pros and Cons by Kieran Meehan

I have been a follower of Kieran Meehan's strip, Pros and Cons, for about a year now.  If you are not familiar with it, the central characters include a psychiatrist, a cop, and a prosecuting attorney.   The feature I most often see and like about the strip is the way he is able to skewer some widely held and unwise notions.  These are cognitive distortions which are so common they become hard to recognize. 

In the case of this offering, the clueless client is so attached to the notion that emotions can be turned on and off that he hears his therapist's intervention as a response to his analogy, not to the notion itself.  We can turn off awareness of our emotions but to do so takes a large investment of energy.  Such a choice also results in us being disconnected from our experience. 

While Meehan makes the choice look foolish, the truth is we all from time to time decide not to feel our feelings.  We decide to turn off our emotions to get through a difficult situation.  We can do this, for a while, at great cost.