an anti-authoritarian sensitive way of dealing with conflicts.
ALWAYS: understand that conflicts are emotional. and that it’s important to self-reflect before getting into a conflict resolution process. asking oneself: what triggers me in different situations? how do i react to fear? how do i respond to anger? how do i behave when i’m angry myself? sad? etc
DO: remember that the focus is on the persons involved in the conflict. their needs and wishes are “on stage”. but still not ignoring own feelings and needs. to facilitate in a sensitive way without getting lost oneself.
FAILURE: doesn’t exist. there can be great frustration, sadness and other feelings, but we can’t possibly fail in living. only learn.
[if we assume that there is a collective of people/a pool of persons willing to try out facilitation in conflicts, not always available, but from time to time. willingness to help out could for instance be expressed to the mailing list of a conflict resolution network]
** take contact with the person (A) who’s expressed interest in resolving a conflict.
** tell (A) what persons would be available. tell (A) that they can choose who and how many they want to meet.
** ask (A) what can be done in order for (A) to feel safe when meeting up. any specific place? any friends/support persons they would like to have present? anything else?
then meet up. and try to make sure that there’s enough time for the meeting. or tell before-hand how long the meeting will be, and in that case ask (A) to think about
** how to describe their situation, what they are feeling, what they would need in order to feel better, what they would wish to happen.
** when meeting up try to formulate clear and precise requests.
** make a feeling round in the beginning and during the meeting in order to make the space feel more allowing and safe.
** make a feedback + feeling round at the end, to find out what could be done differently. or if there was something that was experienced as very positive, that would be nice to be repeated. (feedback can also
be told later, if something surfaces at some other moment)
IMPORTANT: the main work is done by the persons involved in the conflict. the facilitator can come with suggestions in the process, but these should be done in a non-demanding way. for instance asking before if it would be ok to make a suggestion.
DO: take conflict resolution work as *facilitation*. not as somebody from outside/above making up solutions (which can also be ok). but most of the time the persons involved know best what they want. so
it’s basically just getting that work going.
— what are the persons involved feeling?
—- what needs lie beneath?
—– what can be done in order to get these needs fulfilled (and there’s always a million kazillion ways of making that happen).
——- be sensitive and caring.
GOOD TO: have one person responsible for coordinating the process (all the different facts and practical meetings and requests.) it’s important not to leave loose ends, since the persons involved are in a vulnerable position. there needs to be trust and safety created.
ALSO: offer a follow-up if there needs to be additional requests made or something other.
examples of clear requests: neighbors x and Y are having a conflict.
they agree on building a fence <<UNCLEAR, clear>> x will get the
wood and paint for the fence before April 2. Y will start building the
fence at the latest April 5 and have it finished before April 15th.
and x will start painting her side of the fence at the latest April
17th and have it finished April 22nd. Y will start painting her side
of the fence at the latest April 23 and have it finished before April
(simply put: who does what and what time)
neighbor x should not play loud music late at night <<UNCLEAR,
clear>> x will not raise the volume above level 4, after 11:30 pm.
this way there will be less misunderstandings, and less conflicts caused by the unclarity. (“but you said you wouldn’t play loud music!” “but i didn’t!!” etc)
ALSO: when making requests make sure the person is focusing on their own feelings and needs. especially women (and other oppressed groups) should be told to not think of the other, but to focus entirely on themselves, that they have a right to do that. their needs matter.
FOR PERSONS WORKING TOWARDS A SENSITIVITY OF STRUCTURAL POWER ABUSE:
*** Power of definition: The affected person has the right to define what is to be considered as a violation of their boundaries. They have a right to define a situation as oppressive according to how they’ve experienced it. The person regarded as the affected person is the one who, considering structural power relations, is in the oppressed position and who, additionally, considers themselves an affected person.
*** Partiality: Partiality means positioning oneself with the affected person and supporting their power of definition.
Examples of supremacist expressions:
1 —- “Can’t you have any fun?”
2 —- “That wasn’t meant to be sexist/racist/homophobic…you are too sensitive”
3 —- “Let’s not overreact.”
4 —- “Now you’re violating my boundaries when you jump all over me like that, just because I was a little…”
Examples of objective structural power positions:
privilege: Man, White, Hetero, Human, Adult, Meat-eater
oppressed: Woman, Non-white, Non-hetero, Non-human animal, Child, Vegan
There is no space where these hierarchies are not in action.
There are spaces where there exists structures for working against
these hierarchies (not just words, but practice and actions). And
these spaces are more comfortable to move around in, for persons
belonging to the oppressed groups. (These spaces are usually more
caring in general, more humane. So they are also beneficial for the
persons in privileged positions. We all need to feel love.)
ABOUT PRIVILEGE: one benefit of belonging to a privileged group is the
total lack of looking at the behavior of that group in any critical
way. or having any recognition of the privileges that come with being
treated as a member of this group. the mainstream is perceived as
“normal”. the point of view of the oppressed is not seen as real. or
even sometimes perceived as a threat or a boundary-violation of the
privileged. privileged behavior can more easily be explained as >>
lack of empathy.
strategies used by the privileged:
** falsely compliant
** denial / fiction