Thursday 28 February 2008

Conflict Transformation, Day Three

Conflict Transformation Course, Day Three (Earlier Day One, here and here, Day Two here.) This bagged up information from the other two, with a chance to rework the medical ethics problem from day 1 in the light of all we'd learnt about Integrative Complexity and Relational Contextual Reasoning. I came to the same conclusion, but was rather surprised by how many extra facets about the problem and its various contexts came into play when I applied the IC/ RCR toolboxes. We were each given a personal profile describing how we react to conflict, based on the work we'd handed in. I wish I’d studied this stuff years ago. I don’t think it would have lessened the amount of conflict in my life, but it would have felt more like White Water rafting, and less like falling over Niagara Falls!

Finally, a lot of the course so far rather assumed rational people acting rationally. Whether it's an angry person somewhere under the ceiling, or a sullen manipulative bully, not everybody is sensible all the time. Some people and groups make a living out of being difficult. What about them?

We were introduced to a bit of Game Theory (Robert Axelrod) called, rather unattractively, “Tit for Tat” indicating tactical options in relation to a variably collaborative or defecting protagonist which might be able to get things back on some sort of negotiable track in the face of person or persons behaving badly.

I think this project offered considerable potential for church conflict at all levels. Here's a classic statistic out of the air — 46% of church conflict is more driven by the personal dynamics than the actual bone of contention. We need to grow greater understanding about how we interact and why, along with some practical skills for alternative strategies and tactics. I’m certainly exploring how we might be able to access this resource better in the diocese and wider church. It will be interesting to walk towards Lambeth with this perspective in mind.

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