Conflict Transformation is a new and emerging concept in the public and corporate sector; however, it has been studied and used by Ombudsmen, mediators and alternative dispute resolution (ADR) professionals for many years.
While many people hear conflict transformation and think conflict resolution, the two are not the same.
So what is the difference? Conflict resolution addresses individual situations of conflict on a case by case basis with learned tools and techniques. A situation of conflict arises, the person handles it, and no other thought to future situations is considered in that moment.
Conflict transformation uses these same tools and techniques with a big twist. The focus is no longer on the conflict and the tools to handle it. The focus is directed at the person handling the conflict. This new concept is about empowering individuals with the choice to conform to their current environment or transform it. When one chooses to transform their environment, it then creates a ripple effect that extends beyond them. The conflict in their lives is no longer resolved only to move on to the next one. Rather, it is transformed into a peaceful outcome that benefits the individual and also the people around them whether it is their spouse, family, friends or coworkers.
Think about the food you eat. Would you rather dine on a meal prepared by a cook or a chef? A better question is: would you prefer to be a cook or a chef when you are preparing food?
A cook reads recipes, follows the directions and delivers a meal. They will do the same thing the next day. The end result can be a good meal or not, depending on how well they read and execute the recipe and/or how well the recipe was written.
Alternatively, a chef intuitively understands food. They understand the chemistry behind food preparation, the origin of the products, the tastes of the individual ingredients and the instinct of blending the different ingredients together. A chef marries all of this innate understanding to create a work of art on the plate.
When it comes to conflict, we choose to transform the world around us.
When conflict shows up in your world, what do you choose?