CDRC’s Conflict Mediation

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Tompkins Weekly 03/04/2013

By Jeff Shepardson

Healthy, engaged relationships are always key to the success of any endeavor that is dependent on a spirit of collaboration and community.  In situations where people in community are engaged in the challenging process of change and adaptation where new ways are replacing the way things used to be, conflict is unavoidable and potentially a valuable part of growth and transformation.

However, conflict and the individuals it “hooks” can easily sabotage months even years of effort and collaboration when that conflict is avoided or inadequately addressed.  Healthy communities, in any context and size, require a process that can manage conflicts when they present in ways that not only solve problems, but more importantly restore individuals and their relationships to and interactions with each other.  These resolution processes can and often do happen both in the one-on-one context and in the multi-party or group context; sometimes separately and sometimes all at once!

Because our culture tends to be strongly conflict-averse, many of us opt to deal with the conflict-crisis by going into a problem solving mode, developing systems and devising protocols that manage the conflict in attempts to eliminate or side-step the “personal, emotional” (ie. messy & difficult) components.  Such strategies, though potentially effective short-term, often fail to address the deeper elements at play; elements that when left un-addressed will in all likelihood reappear down the road, causing folks to question “Why are we dealing with this again?  I thought we had solved this problem!”

Community Dispute Resolution Center (CDRC) offers mediation and facilitation as one such possible resource for managing conflict in a way that “gets-at” these more deep-seated, not always readily visible issues and dynamics at play in a conflict.  Using Transformative Mediation principles and practice, mediation and facilitation offers people a mechanism to address the compromised human-interactions that rest at the heart of any conflict – crisis.  Using this model of mediation practice, once parties and groups have shifted the dynamics of their interaction from feeling compromised and shut off from each other to more centered and responsive to each other, problem-solving becomes much more relevant and long-lasting, often flowing out of a restored spirit of collaboration.

Conflict is a normal and natural part of humans being in community.  As such conflict also has an inherent potential to be powerfully informative and useful as individuals and groups define and redefine themselves.  Resolutions that acknowledge and mediate not just the more objective or symptomatic parts of conflict but rather “go for the heat” of compromised interactions have the best chance of achieving sustainable, long-terms results.

For more information on CDRC’s mediation, facilitation and training services, contact Jeff Shepardson @ or 607-273-9347.

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