There are several kinds of maps which make up the components of Creative Conflict Resolution. For our purposes here we are referring to them as Disciplines, Distinctions, Glossary, and Other Maps. This last category is just for all the things which don't fit easily into the first three.
How we will be working on this site
My need in our relationship (with myself as the author and you as the reader) is for me to be confident that I am doing everything I can to support your interest in becoming masterful in conflict resolution. I want to know that I am doing everything I can to support you in realizing that goal. In that regard, I will be writing to you from time to time in the blog which is the second tab of this site. The newest articles from that blog are accessible from the sidebar of the front page of the site and are to the right here. The articles are searchable by links to categories, by tags through the Tag Cloud, or by a word search from the bar at the top right of every page. Each of those articles will have links to content in this portion of the site.
I hope you are excited about learning the perspectives and skills that this site will offer you. It will help you become a master at conflict resolution. This mastery is similar in some respects to the mastery that Luke Skywalker learned from Yoda in becoming a Jedi. I don't want to be too corny about this, but Luke had to engage in strenuous and persistent discipline. If you want to be able to make this shift, you will have to be disciplined. At the same time, Luke had to learn to let go and allow the Force to guide him. Similarly, there are some things that you will likely have to let go of and allow a process larger than yourself do its work. You will have to learn to "trust the Force."
Whenever one takes on as a goal the development of a new capacity or ability, one takes with it the awareness that this mastery will require practice. As the young musician on the streets of New York was told when inquiring of a native about how one gets to Carnegie Hall, it takes, "Practice, practice, practice."
We will have to practice if we are going to become masters at conflict resolution.
On this site I will introduce to you ten disciplines which I have found to be very helpful in mastering the skills of Creative Conflict Resolution. It is my hope to go into them in greater depth in a future volume, but for now it is important that you understand that much of what I have to say may not make any sense to you if you do not have a personal experience of what I am talking about. For this reason it is essential that you at least try each of these disciplines. Indeed it is only with persistent effort that you will find the benefits that they promise.
In the book, Living Deeply members of the staff of the Institute for Noetic Sciences share their discovery that all personal growth disciplines have what they call the "four essential elements of transformative practice." I recommend the book to those who want to go more deeply into a broad range of transformative practices, but, for now, I just want to highlight the four elements to set the stage for the disciplines of Creative Conflict Resolution.
Intention: All practices or disciplines have a quality of intentionality. We enter into them with an intention to have some quality of our lives be different. If we do not actively will that change, we won't change.
Attention: We will have to pay attention...close attention...attending to things we haven't noticed before. We will not create transformation in our lives without focusing.
Repetition: Getting it right once is not going to be the end of it. We will have to do it over and over and over. We will have continue to do it until it becomes second nature...to where it becomes not just something we are doing but an aspect of who we are.
Guidance: We will not know best how to do this all on our own. We have to be able to ask for help and then accept the guidance we are offered. Others have gone before and learned some things which will make this more easily available to us if we simply open ourselves to their guidance. But there is another source of guidance which comes from within. We have an inner knowing which can also guide us.
To find a list of and links to the ten disciplines, click the tab at the top on any page.
One of the things we will be training in is the ability to make distinctions. At the core, wisdom is the ability to know that this is different from that. If I am going to be able to weed the garden, I have to know what the weed seedlings look like and what the seedlings look like that are the plants I want to keep.
Our ability to distinguish this from that is one measure of intelligence. Standardized IQ tests measure one's ability to know how one thing is different from another and even how the difference between A and B may be like or unlike the difference between B and C. Scoring well on such tests may not be a good indicator of one's ability to get on in life, but being able to distinguish between things is a necessary skill if one is weeding a garden or preparing a meal.
There are some distinctions that almost everyone can learn--as the difference between a red light and a green one--but there are some distinctions that can be very difficult to master. There are five of them that are critical to being able to creatively resolve conflicts with others. They are particularly difficult when the conflicts are with people that we are close to.
At the outset I want to make it clear that the distinctions are not between what is good and what is bad or between what is right and what is wrong. There is no sense in which one is better than the other. They are only different in ways that may not be easily apparent.
For example, it is important to make a distinction between a conflict and a fight. This is hard because we sometimes use those words as synonyms...as when we talk about an international conflict when what we are referring to is a war. Certainly a war is a kind of fight. For our purposes, though, we want to be able to notice that there is a condition in a relationship that we call a conflict even before we begin to do something about it. A fight is one of the strategies that people use to address conflicts, but the conflict exists before the fight starts and we can choose to not fight even if there is a conflict. A conflict is a condition in a relationship in which one or both parties don't like the way the other is being. A fight is a way of addressing a conflict in which the goal is to try to make the other lose.
So while we sometimes use the word conflict to mean fight there is a useful distinction that we can make between them. Most people, once the distinction has been made for them, are able to reliably continue to see and make the distinction. But there are some distinctions that are much harder to consistently make. One example is that voiced by the Serenity Prayer that many are familiar with. There are variations, but the one I am familiar with goes:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, and The wisdom to know the difference.
Personally, I think it should be referred to as the Wisdom Prayer as the crucial capacity is the ability to know what I can do from what I cannot do. The point I want to make here is that this is a distinction that is very hard to make. It seems simple, but it certainly isn't easy. And, as the popularity of the prayer can attest, it is very important to know the difference.
To find a list of and links to the core distinctions, click the tab at the top on any page.
A word is a kind of basic map. We have created language and by it a shared meaning for a set of symbols and sounds and by those symbols we communicate with each other and with ourselves. Our words form the symbols on the pages of our maps.
There are many words which we will use in a very specific way on this site. Our verbal language is a lower order map. By "lower order" I don't mean less important, but rather more basic. It is by our language that we form the building blocks of more complex maps. Language itself doesn't fully solve our problems, but without language we don't have the basic tools with which to even name the problem, much less to solve it.
The way we talk shapes the way we think. The way we think shapes the way we act. The way we act builds our relationship with those around us. If we are to repair our relationships with others, we have to change the way we act. To change the way we act, we will have to change the way we think. To change the way we think, we will have to change the way we talk. We will have to change the words we use and the maps which form our understanding of the world.
To find a list of and links to the words in our glossary, click the tab at the top on any page.
So there are these three major categories of maps, but there are many others that don't quite fit into these boxes.
In order to help users find the maps they are looking for, the other maps are arranged in sub-categories as:
- The Problem: the first step toward resolution is naming the problem accurately
- Relationship: conflicts arise in relationships and the way we can resolve conflicts depends of the nature of the relationship in which it arises
- Self-awareness: before I can address a conflict with another I have to be able to address the conflict which is arising in me about the conflict
- Vision for Who and How we might be: resolving the internal conflict depends on figuring out who I am in this instance and how I want to show up in relationship to the other, and
- Technologies for Intervention and Transformation: no matter how well I know the problem, the relationship, or myself; in the end I have to change what I am doing.
To find a list of and links to the other maps, click the tab at the top of any page.
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