“Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict –alternatives to passive or aggressive responses…” ― Dorothy Thompson
Every day clients bring their problems to us and together we work at solving them. Solving people’s problems is a calling for professionals in the helping fields as it was for me – it’s what made me want to enter the field of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), go on to law school, and dedicate my life to serving the needs of others.
We live to serve, to help, to find solutions that work, solutions that are fair, solutions that are just given the circumstances.
Too often we’ve seen parties in conflict pitted against each other. Instead of shifting into the mindset of problem solving, they polarize themselves into corners wanting to fight – a you versus me mentality. Equally as often are scenarios where we’ve seen parties avoid facing their problems altogether, running from conflict instead of addressing it head-on in a constructive way.
But fight or flight are not the only options available.
A movement that’s gained tremendous traction since I’ve been in the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) arena ca. 2004 is the utilization of mediation.
Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is an umbrella term encompassing the methodologies of mediation, arbitration, negotiation, facilitation, and other non-litigation options to resolving conflict.
Mediation is the process whereby a neutral third party (the mediator) assists parties in conflict in addressing each issue at hand by facilitating discussion of problems and terms of resolution.
Problem Solving In A Peaceful Way
Most conflict arises because of lack of communication, lack of understanding, lack of compassion, and a failure to see the bigger picture. Someone committed a harm (perhaps intentionally, perhaps unintentionally); someone felt harmed and retaliated. It’s a never-ending cycle.
When conflict is met with more conflict, that energy escalates. What you focus on expands.
What could have been resolved via a productive conversation can quickly turn into a legal battle costing lots of time, stress, and money.
There is a better way.
We’ve all felt it coming, this shift toward a more loving way of living with each other on this great big rotating ball we call home. After all, we all want the same thing at our core – to live happy lives, to live in support of one another’s unique life path, to live at peace with each other.
As we grow and evolve as human beings we’ve noticed that fighting each other creates more conflict, not less, and the collateral damage can be staggering.
We’ve seen that instead sitting down with a purported adversary, rolling up our sleeves and brainstorming solutions to the issues on the table actually achieves more in the long run – you not only solve the problem at hand, but you’ve saved a tremendous amount of time and stress and money, minimized collateral damage, and kept your integrity intact.
Resolving conflict in a peaceful way through mediation does not mean that you’re foregoing standing up for yourself when you’ve been harmed. Rather, it allows you to address your needs while also addressing the needs of the other. It’s a solution-oriented modality – eliminating ego and personal biases that cloud one’s ability to problem solve.
Most importantly, it achieves positive lasting results.
Conflict is inevitable, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’re all living our own personal truths on this merry-go-round of life, with our own distinct personalities, and ideas, and missions, and sometimes our life paths will intersect in an unfavorable way. Conflict can be helpful at times – leading to breakthroughs in relationships, helping to identify weak spots that needed re-evaluating and perfecting in business as well as personal affairs. The key is not to avoid conflict, neither to inflate it, but rather to address it each time it arises in a constructive, peaceful, manner so that you can move on.
The Great Seal of the United States depicts this philosophy. The bald eagle is displayed facing a bundle of olive branches clutched in one talon, a bundle of arrows in the other. The message is that when faced with conflict, the USA looks first to find peaceable modes of resolution, but is ready to fight when necessary – a powerful and wise symbol of our nation’s approach to diplomacy. An approach we should all adopt.
Each year at this time we’re given an opportunity to reflect on the last year of our life and look for ways that we can become better in the next. It’s another chance to write a new chapter, a fresh start, to fill 365 pages of our life with whatever we so choose.
My hope for this New Year 2015 is that when conflict comes we will all first look to solve it peacefully via constructive communication, mediation, and/or another form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) – wholeheartedly, genuinely, and authentically for our highest good. The ripple effects of approaching life in this manner can change everything for the betterment of us all.
Happy New Year – I wish you peace and so much love! Talk soon…jai bhagwan, namaste…