Community Peace

Posted: October 28, 2009 in 1

dove

Conflict…when escalated becomes the stuff of wars, and is this not the opposite of peace?

As a child my sensitive nature caused me to cringe at the mere elevation of tone when arguments began to escalate. At the age of 55, I have recovered some from this response, but only to the point where I have developed strategies to attempt to prevent this behaviour in others.

What is it that we all desire in our community? It would be my best guess that for many of us, and, I believe, for all of our children that PEACE is very high on the list. Being caught in petty divisive conflicts definitely will kill the spirit of community, the spirit of neighborliness and increase hostility…the stuff of war. I, for one, do not want to participate.

I have a very dear friend, Chris,  whose political stripe is quite different from my own, yet we share more similarities than we do differences. Our values coincide on important issues. If I drew a Venn diagram, there would be so many things in the intersection. Amongst those important shared beliefs would be PEACE, integrity, kindness, community spirit, charity, environmental activism and so much more. And what I cherish most is that we can land on opposite sides of a debate with no animosity because we debate ideas. There is nothing personal about those beliefs we don’t share. We both celebrate diversity. Isn’t this the community you want to live in?

Conflict resolution is a modern name for processes and strategies to allow individuals and groups of people to work together peacefully. It allows ideas to be heard without personalizing the content. It allows the ideas to be separated from the personalities. It, in fact, allows the business to carry on where people can disagree and continue to be friends and to be friendly.

Ancient wisdom tells us, “everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Modern conflict management tells us that active listening means we are not planning our own rebuttals while the other person is speaking. It tells us not to choose a side, to be black or white on an issue but to be purposely neutral while listening, open to the content and context of any words. With practice, one can separate one’s ideas about the person, what they may have said or done before from what they are saying at this moment. This is a true openness, without judgment – that is required to be a good listener.

To be a good speaker one needs to avoid using judgmental terms and insults, body language that shows disdain for others, and attempt to discuss ideas rather than the people who present them.

I offer some strategies for those of you who share with me a desire for PEACE. Here are some basic CONFLICT RESOLUTION strategies:

  • Establish and follow standards of behavior
  • Avoid using the word “YOU” in debate
  • Develop respectful responses to disrespectful behavior.
  • Listen with respect and respond with care.
  • Stick to issues and avoid gossip
  • Use empathetic responses
  • Count to 10.  Use silence to increase calm.  It’s valuable to “leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
  • Speak from the “same side of the table.” (find points of agreement)
  • Tangible reminders to respond appropriately. (notes, cues from a colleague)
  • Build credibility with  language and actions
  • Give people a way out.  Establish choices.
  • Refuse the win-lose perspective.
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Comments
  1. Pooh says:

    Such very wise advice Elaine. I recall one time when I overheard my mother and daughter talking. My daughter asked her grandmother. “What happens when good people do bad things?” My very wise mother responded “Well they aren’t good anymore are they?”

  2. Chris says:

    WHEN will you ever, Peace, wild wooddove, shy wings shut,
    Your round me roaming end, and under be my boughs?
    When, when, Peace, will you, Peace? I’ll not play hypocrite
    To own my heart: I yield you do come sometimes; but
    That piecemeal peace is poor peace. What pure peace allows 5
    Alarms of wars, the daunting wars, the death of it?

    O surely, reaving Peace, my Lord should leave in lieu
    Some good! And so he does leave Patience exquisite,
    That plumes to Peace thereafter. And when Peace here does house
    He comes with work to do, he does not come to coo, 10
    He comes to brood and sit

    Gerard Manley Hopkins, 1918.

    I don’t know if you are familiar with this “difficult” poet, who was a devout roman catholic and close friend of Cardinal John Henry Newman. (The latter was a great-great-great uncle of mine). I was introduced to him in high school and quite liked him from the outset. This particular poem has remained with me ever since.

    • Catherine says:

      Wow – this is so eloquent. This is what I deal with in my job every day, trying to teach people how to help themselves out of their conflict situations. What you’ve said here captures the ideas so very well. In particular your list of strategies should be a very useful tool to anyone taking the time to read and absorb it. Thanks for posting it.CMC

  3. Elaine, thanks for this post. It just reminds me what a long way I have to go. Mind you, I have been learning and I listen – for people like you have a lot of wisdom to offer. But I think it will be an ongoing learning for me. But that is ok.

    Where I face a big problem is with people that I perceive are willingly doing harm. Take James Moore for instance. He’s not nice man. He’s a bully and he believes climate change is a hoax and mandatory GMO labeling is pointless. I have huge issues with this, because politicians like him are destroying my son’s and other generation’s future. I believe this is where I draw the line. Sometimes one has to go to battle. But as the Samurai have always believed, the pen is mightier then the sword and one should go to battle only when absolutely necessary. When it comes to climate change, the talk is over and the battle has begun.

  4. Vince Montgomery says:

    Elaine,

    The planet can only benefit from such wisdom, as is clear and honest in your post. It is comforting to know that not all ears are deaf, and that minds and hearts are at their best when they are open. Those who seek peace from life, must first live it in their own lives.

    Peace,

    V.

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