Needed: Bridge-builders & World-workers!

As I reflect on the state of our world, I can’t help but feel a profound sense of concern. The ongoing armed conflicts, particularly the Russia-Ukraine and Israel-Hamas as well as the multiple conflicts in many regions in Africa, weigh heavily on my heart. We also experience a lot of in-fighting in the business world. It’s alarming to see the devastating toll that conflict and war takes on communities, families, and individuals.

But we can start changing this. And you can help in you part of the world. For that to happen, we need to go deeper. And understand our human wiring.

Over the years, I’ve delved deeply into the nature of conflict resolution, and what I’ve discovered is eye-opening. We are not rational or logical beings, but rather emotional beings that sometimes think. Conflict and peace-making ARE NOT just intellectual puzzles; they’re deeply rooted in our emotions and relationships. Our analytical brains, with all their logical prowess, often fail us when it comes to navigating emotional turmoil. Attempting to reason and debate our way out of conflict often leads to further discord.

Negotiations frequently falter because our emotional brains override the logical agreements we’ve made. So, how should we approach conflicts? Here are some crucial considerations:

  • Trusting Relationships: Building trust is paramount. Establishing relationships where we feel safe and loved allows us to pre-empt conflicts by agreeing on how to treat each other with respect. By valuing each other’s perspectives and focusing on the positive aspects of our relationships, we can defuse tensions before they escalate and our cortisol (stress horme) kicks in.
  • Re-set the Atmosphere: As humans we can pause to re-set our inner and interpersonal temperature. Agreeing on our attitude and behaviour while working through differences is essential. This creates an environment conducive to resolution and understanding.
  • Positive Perspective: Instead of dwelling on the negatives, consider the positives. Ask yourself, “What can be the gift or opportunity in this conflict?” And “what new thing wants to emerge?”  taking a positive perspective moves you from a survival to a thriving mindset. That can profoundly impact the process and the outcome.
  • Empathy: Pausing our emotions and assumptions also allows us to understand the other person’s perspective. Asking about their deeper motivations and desires fosters genuine connection and collaboration.
  • Shift!: Focus on solutions rather than problems. By considering opportunities for collective gain, we can collaboratively work towards a greater good.

So, I challenge you about your own conflicts. Get unstuck. Go beyond your own position, be curious, go deeper, seek solutions, and be open to dialogue. It might be wise to agree on the following:

  1. Pause to re-set: What relational atmosphere do we need for this conversation to be helpful and positive?
  2. Listen deeply: What do each party really, really want?
  3. Brainstorm: How can we reach a win-win solution?
  4. Choose how we will be with each other: What relational atmosphere will we need to get the win-win outcome?
  5. What now: What are the immediate next steps?

Your part of the world needs you. You can be the difference you would like to see!