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Conflict as an opportunity

When I was a little girl I had the flawless imagine of the perfect world, where people enter into friendly interactions, that enable them build the determinate and happy relationships. I assumed that it is easy to get on well with everyone, as I experienced it within my own family. However, while trading bootees for high-heeled shoes I was shocked facing the real colours of a new uncovered picture – the reality. Arguing like crazy over those little things without any chance to hear, to understand, to be able to identify any satisfying solutions. Although I did not know why, the
disharmony and powerlessness seemed like a potential gap not just for improvement of myself but also to help to other people with it.
For most people facing either an interpersonal or intrapersonal conflict signify a nightmare, which will not let them fall asleep. Musing on the proper length, sharpness or position of the tiny pin, that got stuck in our heads, is tying ourselves in knots over the blind alley of our maps. The faster and longer we drive, the deeper to our hearts the pin shifts. Whether this relates to a governmental conflict or a family dispute, it’s parties have one in common. The vulnerability, especially when it comes to our own mistakes. Like a fog over the road, the emotions are compelling us to change a speed and manner we move on the road. Although there is just a frightened rabbit dodging towards a bush, the only thing we are capable to see is the strongest lion waiting to beat us. Startling is to look at the same situation from point of view of the lion. Suddenly the rabbit appears to have the superiority. How is that possible? As I have been studying alternative dispute resolution I found out, that it is important to look at the issue from its roots. To comprehend the cause and effect that constitute conflict. Besides of other meanings, conflict also signify a chance to reverse a status quo to me. Not only within the society, but also in our own values and attitudes. One of the first books that affected my opinion on how to deal with people and resolve disputes was written by Dale Carnegie: How to win friends & Influence people. Learning to apply those strategies not only within my professional’s steps in career but also during the daily situations of my life proved to be highly efficient. However, I also learnt, that knowing the strategy is not enough if you do not identify yourself with its grounds.
Having the opportunity to study alternative dispute resolution at the University of Otago in New Zealand I was lucky to meet an amazing teacher and negotiator professor Ian McAndrew. Throughout a semester intensive course on mediation and negotiation I was studying, how to discern significant leads and binding within human interactions and how to use them for potential movements. I also learnt that it is important to be comfortable with conflict. I suppose, that it enables parties to react based on reasons and motives, not only based on emotions. However, I see emotions as an important part of conflict, therefore it is necessary to know how to manage them. It allows the parties to fight for their goals. The latest experience, based on which I reversed my attitude to managing a conflict was course on transformative approach in mediation. By prior findings I identified myself with more directive approach, because I found out helpful to apply my experience on the parties’ situations. After practicing 57 hours of transformative training I face a challenge to put into practice the knowledge, that everyone is capable of making decisions, that suits the best to their needs. Nowadays I consider mediator more as a guide in the process, rather than an expert on negotiation. Although research
shows, that more directive approach leads to higher percentage of ‘’solved’’ disputes, the practiceproved that the more the parties are the one, who create the outcomes, the more they are motivated to keep to those outcomes. Our gestures and words are hopes as well as disappointments from knowing the truth. Often even the unuttered thought might be more hurting than the shared ones. I believe that conflict gives us an opportunity to improve ourselves, to become self-confident when advocating our goals.

Iva Břízová
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