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Looking at conflict differently
 

Looking at conflict differently

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Presentation by Mirna Hidalgo (lawyer, expert in training on conflict management, Breathingstone) on the occasion of the EESC and Fondation de Corse - Umani conference on Non-violence, a new way ...

Presentation by Mirna Hidalgo (lawyer, expert in training on conflict management, Breathingstone) on the occasion of the EESC and Fondation de Corse - Umani conference on Non-violence, a new way forward for the 21st century? in Bastia, Corsica on 14 June 2013

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  • If you ask people anywhere what they wish for the world, everyone wants peace. All churches pray for peace, every year we wish each other a year full of peace, we engrave a peace wish in our beloved one’s graves..
  • Even Miss Universe, Miss World wishes Peace – and this is for a reason: conflict is inherent in human nature; it is part of the survival instinct of all creatures – conflict and difficult interaction will continue to exist as long as the world exists
  • [Take the example of the phenomena of “piqueteros” in Argentina (where I come from): people started to protest pacifically against the governement, because they felt they were not heard, started to block roads to call for attention. Now the piqueteros are highly organised and can block a city or the country fi they want to. In turn, the rest of the population no longer knows why they pirqueteros are protesting this time, but find that they are not allowed to take children to school, cannot go to work, ambulances cannot circulate. So other people who were not part of the initial conflict are now angry and start to react violently towards others. And the circle escalates.... ]
  • Is conflict per se a bad thing?
  • Diplomats and politicians are generally excellent at their strategic thinking but have not been trained to specialise in the skills that are required to solve international and national conflicts - Each of us could also learn how to deal with conflict differently if we understood it better.
  • If we expect that behaviour be always “rational”, when it is not, then the traditional way is to punish the irrational behaviour in a “tit for tat” mindset
  • Antonio Damasio, a neuroscientist, says that we are 98 percent emotional and 2% rational. In fact, behavoural scientists say that we are “predictably irrational” . Instead of “rational beings with feelings”, we should see ourselves as “feeling beings with the ability to think rationally”
  • By understanding emotions, it can be made sure that the underlying needs are being addressed and that the agreement is not superficial
  • Let’s look at how conflicts escalate
  • A good mediator will tell you that conflicts can be successfully negotiated with the parties are at stage 1. Stages 2 and 3 might be solved by agreement but they need to be de-escalated to level 1 to hold.
  • If I ask you which one is the best? What would be your answer? Which do you prefer? These are also called “conflict or negotiating personalities” because we all have a tendency to prefer a given way. Is it best to compete and win or to dissaude?Sun Tzu, said that “To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the highest skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the highest skill”.Now, not all situations allow for choice - if you are physically threatened, this is not the time to propose a negotiation. But in the majority of every day life situations, you will be confronted with situations where there is an opportunity for negotiation
  • Let’s look then at how the “old way” has traditionally looked at negotiation: Negotiating is generally understood as “making a deal, ie trade so that we get the best for ourselves” – for example if I want to buy a car I would think how can I get most options, and pay less? How will I look in this car? What will my friends think of me when they see me driving this? If you have children, will it be functional? Can I fit all the sports and daily groceries? Now let’s say two parents have to decide on the religion for their baby. How do they do this? Cannot – to quote Salomon – split the baby in half? Perhaps they need to talk about their deeper values and beliefs, and what religion means to each side of the family? If we take a purely distributive approach, every discussion becomes an exchange of tradeable commodities - then peace becomes a commodity – you get piece in exchange for land, or power for laying down the arms. But think about our identity and beliefs: I cannot trade away what creates my sense of self-belonging and identity in a negotiation. Complex situations tht involve emotions and cannot be easily quantified require an integrative approach .
  • Now, assume you have chosen the right negotiating style - is that all? What if there are factors of which you are not even aware? Cognitive biases play at unconcious level.
  • We are all programmed to survive - we had to fight predators and this required extreme self confidence . (for example, to scream and scare away big lions, the primitive man needed to be overconfident). So we tend to think we are smarter than others - ie we tend to reject ideas from opponents because they originate from the other side. The confirmation bias is very interesting: people look for confirmation that they are right, their brain rewards them with the same release of hormones as when they are happy when they reinforce their ideas. This is why trying to convince someone by attacking their beliefs is going to produce the opposite result. An attack provokes defense. Let me tell you a personal story: my boy is 15, he is starting to get out with friends - we agree on the time he has to be back. He asked to go to a school party. We live in a small town so he was going by bicycle with his best friend. We gave him permission until 22:30. My husband is less patient and stricter than me. He was expecting they would be late and saying that Anton never respects the time, kids are not like before... So when they arrived at 22:29, was my husband happy? Well, he should have, but there was something else playing in his head - he would have preferred to be justified and confirm his thinking that kids are irresponsible. So, the kids were there “we made it”, but instead of congratulations they heard “just about, we’ll see next time”. Group thinking or motivational biases also work like that: Groups tend to stereoptype out-groups and prototype their own members; self-censorship of counterarguments, and pressure on dissenters to maintain group loyaltySome examples of cognitive biases: self – deceptive overconfidenceConfirmation bias Motivational biases, group thinkingEndowment effect: we overvalue what we own Self-righteous bias: we believe we hold a higher moral value than others Framing effect: reject choices presented as losses
  • Independent from the substance, there is a “shadow negotiation” where we send signals that encourage others to be open and collaborate. If you show appreciation for their ideas, even if you don’t agree ith all of them, there is a chance that they will reciprocate. (example of body language disrespectful while I’m saying “ja, ja, I’m listening”
  • Preparation is the key to every conflict resolution - you may think that it is not possible to spend so much time on this - but ask yourself how much energy and time will be consumed if the conflict is not resolved. Assess your feelings and motivations honestly: is it worth spending time resolving it or is it time to let go? Remember the story of the old grandfather who explains to his grandson that there are two wolves inside you: one that enjoys peace and another that gets very angry and aggressive. They fight with each other all the time - the grandson asked: graandpa; which one wins? And grandpa says “the one I feed the most”.
  • Reserve for questions if an example is necessary: [Let me tell you a personal story. A few years ago I had saved a lot of money to change my house’s windows. The offer was clear and included new shutters. When I came down to serve coffee to the men who were installing the windows, I saw that they had re-installed my old shutters, which were heavy and worn out. The owner said: oh, they are still good, aren’t they? I was in shock and asked about the new shutters we had agreed. The man pretended they were not in the offer and then said he did not have the materials to install them. My “lawyer” reaction would have been to threaten him with the previous documents he had sent and this would have started an escalation.But this time I was tired, this was my house and I wasn’t thinking as a lawyer. I simply let my feelings show. I said “You sent an offer and even spent time looking at the places where the old shutters were broken and now you say they are not included. I am so sad. I have made such an effort saving my money and trying to find the best recommendations for someone who would do a good job. Now I would pay for something that I did not receive. I feel so sad because I trusted you”. And then I couldn’t help it and a few tears rolled down my cheak... The next day the shutters were “found” by surprise in their atelier and he came to install them! ]
  • My brain also plays with biases and creates illusions, so why coulnd’t I imagine I was giving a speech as Miss World? Then I would wish peace for the world and each of you a lot of good luck in managing conflict in every day life [Possible Questions: how can we deal with poeple who have bad intentions, lie, manipulate? First, be careful about rewarding bad behaviour - by allowing it to continue to avoid the problem, the bully feels hecan go ahead. Second, beware of reacting by playing their game: take care of your reputation. Third, being trustworthy does not mean trusting everyone. Try to understand their logic. But don’t try to convince them that they are not right - if the interaction does not work, explain what impact it has on you and what you are going to do if it does not stop. But if the person is really difficutl or perhaps mentally ill, remember you can try to understand but your goal is not to change the other person. Your goal is to try to do your best to fuel a productive exchange. What if the other person is abusive? Make sure you protect your own identity. Sometimes avoidance is the best strategy. (for example when dealing with a psycophat it may be best to consider what other options you have, for example leaving your job) ]

Looking at conflict differently Looking at conflict differently Presentation Transcript