About this sample
About this sample
Words: 2529 |
13 min read
Published: Aug 14, 2023
Words: 2529|Pages: 6|13 min read
After attending the Conflict Sensitivity seminar, I wrote a thoughtful reflection essay to delve into my key takeaways and personal growth from the enriching experience. The topics stated here are the insights and reflection sowed from the Conflict Sensitivity Seminar and is divided into sections for a cohesive and coherent discourse.
Peace cannot be defined without conflict; we cannot know what peace is when there is no contrasting force that moves with it. It is conflict that gives life and draws a line on how peace manifests. Conflict is omnipresent, as stated by our speaker Mr. Cesar Villanueva during our seminar. Human beings thrives in conflict; the conflict on how we approach even the simplest things, from a small scope of thinking of what to cook for breakfast, to the big scope on how we cure poverty and disease. In general, we have personal conflicts, interpersonal conflicts, societal conflicts, and universal conflicts.
As humans, we interact and socialize every day, here interpersonal conflicts are born. Some are mere disputes, or short-term problems, while some are conflicts, or deep-rooted and long-term problems. This cause disorder and even violence. To prevent this, laws are created, courts are established, and lawyers are trained. Our courts and lawyers are burdened with a big responsibility to settle disputes and to an extent patch differences between disputing parties.
As a sociable specie, we are prone to disagreements between our fellow human beings. The birth of our legal system settled and resolved these disagreements, but it is not without some consequences. Courts of law are clogged with cases, some of them being simple disputes that can be solved by amicable settlements, compromise, or any other extrajudicial means. This clogging slows down the time that the court can settle a case. People became litigious, they found a new way to threaten, harass, exert dominance, or even earn money through lawsuits. This further made a rift in conflict where capacity to litigate, connections in the judiciary, in short, power matters in resolving disputes.
During our seminar, we have this authoritarian approach or a competing style of handling conflicts, which more or less mimics a typical lawsuit or litigation. This style is goal-oriented and quick but is prone in breeding hostility between the parties. Another approach that was introduced is the collaborating style, which is similar to an amicable settlement. Problems here are solved in ways which optimum results are provided. It may take a lot of time but this creates mutual trust, builds commitments and relationship between parties. We can observe a stark difference between these two approaches. The former handles a conflict quickly but creates tension between the parties. This may result to a longer dispute as parties will continue asserting between each other, and as a result bridges are burned and grudges are created. The latter approach handles a conflict slowly as relationships and trusts are created slowly but in the end, a fruitful outcome is created; relationships and trusts are established, which results to a long-term resolution between the parties.
Before entering the entry field of the legal profession, I had this perception that the practice of law only involves standing in court arguing between the opposing party, in front of the judge, and in every case there will always be a losing party. It is akin to Game of Thrones where it is either you win or you die, there is no middle ground. When I encountered the term Alternative Dispute Resolution, I had no idea what it is. I asked my cousin who is practicing law about what it is all about. He said that it is one of the most important subject that you will have to learn as it will be useful in practice, I was puzzled about his statement. One of our professors also said that take Alternative Dispute Resolution seriously as it is an important tool in practice, as most suits are solved not in court but outside, through settling matters outside in court to avoid the expense of litigation. Through their words in mind, I was looking forward on what Alternative Dispute Resolution is, and how it is an important tool for a lawyer during practice.
In understanding on how to use the tool for dispute resolutions. We were acquainted first with the core subject-matter which gives rise to every problem, the conflict. Conflict as discussed during the seminar is process which two or more actors try to pursue incompatible goals while trying to undermine the goal-seeking potential of the others. Here, we were acquainted with the idea that conflict is not static. It has a life cycle of its own, it starts small; it builds up and reaches its peak, then it resolves, and it disappears. But oftentimes, it reappears. It can be a continuum which burn relationships to the ground if not handled properly. This nature of conflict paints a negative picture on its nature, a threat. However, this view of conflict is narrow. Conflict is not a mere threat, it is also a challenge. We were thought that when there is conflict, it is an opportunity to build better existing relationships or create a new one. Conflict is not equal to violence, it can be a gift of energy where it creates new relationships.
After knowing the nature of conflict, it is imperative to know the conflict in a situation and to make it as a gift; conjuring it as a means of establishing mutual trust and relationship. In life, we are faced with varying situations that leads to conflict. But in some ways, these conflict are identical and can be mapped out to give a better view of it. During the seminar, we were taught on how to analyse conflicts through different methods or lenses. These methods analyse every aspect of conflict; the people involved, the behaviour of each one of them, their statements and prayers, the cause and effect of the conflict, and the history or the root cause of the conflict. A conflict is similar to a story, it is touched with life. It is made, it escalates, it resolves, and in some extent it produces another plot or problem that will be tackled and resolved. To fully understand a story, literary scholars use different kinds of approach to dissect parts of the story to flesh it out and view it through different perspectives. In conflict resolution, lawyers or mediators use the same kind of analyses or approach to look into a certain problem or situation in another angle, or a different perspective. We take many variables to understand fully a conflict in a given situation; some conflicts may be simple in paper but in reality it is a web of intricacies that each one of them needs to be considered in order to be patched up. In a conflict we must consider the people involved as they are the prime movers of the conflict and how they interact with one another; their relationships, approach, and their attitudes. We consider their wants and needs, and also determine the very root of their conflict. By laying down these cards on the table and dissecting each one of them, we can map out and link each one of these. Through these, we can see their conflict in a different perspective. We might see different angles that we cannot see before and thereby we can create optimal solutions for the conflict at hand.
After laying down the variables that is considered in the conflict and mapping them out, the next logical step would be to resolve them. But ideally, a conflict is not resolved, we transform this conflict. In transforming conflict we are creating a new reality for it. As opposed to the common notion that conflict threatens. We conjure this conflict and make it as a block to establish bridges between the people involved in the conflict. Instead of resolving and forgetting the conflict, it is more ideal to transform it. This conflict transformation leads to a transcendent solution that establishes relationships, this is the gift of conflict. Instead of making one party suffer loss or settling with a compromise that the parties are forced to accept to avoid future losses, a better way is to use the transcendental approach. This approach is one that considers not just the resolution of a conflict, but the equitable effect and harmony that the resolution brings. The goal here is not just to resolve the subject matter of the conflict but also to the ones involved. A typical conflict where one wins over the other results to more grudges and indifference. Ideal as it sounds but it is a daunting task as it starts slowly as each party are made to cooperate each other given the prejudice at the back of their minds as they are participants of the conflict. The goal here is equity; to let each other cooperate for mutual and equitable benefit. Achieving equity does not stop the transcending process. This process looks beyond the conflict and resolution of the parties, this looks beyond the people around; the overarching effect in the society. In this approach, another variable is also juggled, the people around. This supports the notion of how conflict is a gift that can be conjured to create meaningful and lasting relationships. Not just between the parties involved in the conflict and people that were intertwined with it, but also the people around.
To simply illustrate, we take a piece of paper. The conflict crumples the paper and some of its parts are torn. In a typical approach we patch the paper up; glue the torn parts and simply iron out the paper so it will straighten. The paper is on its original form but the traces of crumpling and the torn parts are still evident. In analogy, the parties somehow resolved the conflict but their relationship crumpled. However, if we transcend the paper, we straighten out the paper, but this does not stop there. We take the paper and transform it into something else. For instance, we can use the paper as a part of a bigger vision; a papier-mache. The paper forms part of a bigger project and it forms part of a whole to create the final product which is the papier-mache. In analogy, the parties straighten out their differences and mutually agreed to form part of a bigger undertaking. It creates a bond not only between the parties involved, but also to the people around. In a Hegelian point of view, a conflict has a thesis and anti-thesis; a conflicting idea. Through synthesis it reconciles both ideas by transcending to another level that forms a new idea that encompasses the prior conflicting ideas (thesis-anti-thesis). To put it simply, a conflict is a key in unlocking opportunities that encompasses not only with the ones involved but to the people around.
As earlier stated, transforming and transcending ideas is a daunting but fruitful task. It is a great responsibility that one handles. But a good mediator eases this burden. We are introduced with another variable in conflicts, which is the mediator; the person that balances each party involved in a conflict. No tool can be very effective if the one using it is a fool. There is no use if we have a lot of tools at our disposal if we do not know how to effectively and efficiently utilize it. The mediator must carry also an array of knowledge and conduct in order to achieve a seamless and meaningful conflict resolution.
First arsenal to master would be listening. As mediators, listening to the prayers and grievances of each party is important. It is not just mere listening, but to attentively understand the conflict and each of their arguments.
Second is the art of speaking. Speaking sometimes is the medium where conflict arises but it is also through speaking where one is resolved and transformed. Words are powerful, it can create and destroy relationships. As a mediator, this is a key arsenal to tame and master. Oftentimes, hostility of the parties are really evident especially when they are facing each other. Having a neutral tone and reframing threat-inducing is an important skill as it impacts negatively the goal to achieve a resolution. Listening attentively and speaking in a neutral, diplomatic, and dignified manner encourages constructive communication between parties as this link significantly helps the mediating process as it helps the parties think of a mutually beneficial solution rather than spewing hostilities to each other.
Third one is proper preparation. Through preparation, the mediator gets acquainted with the case at hand by knowing a background of what will be resolved and transformed. This also amplifies confidence as it is important to be composed and calm during mediation. As mediators, manipulation is not the key for resolution, mediators do not program people, to deform or aggravate the conflict. Instead of playing as a judge, mediators play as listeners that help the parties come up with a solution without one of them at gunpoint. They are some sort of peacekeepers or a diplomat. Charged with the power of building strong relationships between people.
Lawyers solve more cases than solving conflicts. In the context of litigation, most opposing parties creates resentment to each other and thus destroying a potential link that creates meaningful relationships. If someone triumphs over a case, the other party falls and gets trampled, resulting to a strong feeling of disdain that may lead to violence. Transforming it is better as it acknowledges and appreciates the differences between parties and forged them into something equitable for both of them. Conflict is not equal to violence, it is often the failure to transform conflicts that leads to violence. The practice of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Conflict Sensitivity, is an innovative way into looking conflicts as potential relationship makers rather than a threat. If conflicts are handled these way, this would lessen the burden of our courts to hear and decide menial and simple cases that may be settled outside, and in turn makes the administration of justice speedy and efficient.
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