Exploring conflict and unresolved conflict

The participants were redistributed into six new groups, each exploring the concept of conflict. Half the groups explored the definition of conflict and how they felt about it, and the other half exploring the evidence that unresolved conflict exists in their environment.

This activity redistributes the participants into new relationships. It is often based on concerns raised by participants during the grounding.

It allows the group to immediately focus on a common task, using their new facilitating and recording skills. It allows them to explore and develop a social agreement on their behaviors while exploring conflict.

Exploring the definition of conflict allows the group to deal with this more as an abstract concept, with less personal attachment. Exploring "unresolved conflict in your environment" allows the group to explore the specific reality of conflict in a more emotional context.

THE QUESTIONS: (The facilitator selects a new facilitator and becomes the recorder.)


* WHAT IS CONFLICT AND ..... HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT IT?


* WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE OF UNRESOLVED CONFLICT IN YOUR ENVIRONMENT? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT?


OUR DEFINITION OF CONFLICT


Conflict is a process that people go through when they disagree. Conflict is the wall or ‘brink' at the edge of change; it's a state of being that's waiting to be challenged. It's a challenge to individuality.

Conflict is a difference of opinion or belief. Conflict arises when there are differences in opinion, differences in perspective, significant changes in the environment and when there are many personalities in a room. Conflict arises from differences in opinion, positions, perspectives as a result of different values or needs or desires, in which people are not easily moved away from those values or needs or desires.

Conflict is diversity that wants to occupy the same time and space. Conflict is diversity or difference. It comes from diversity. Conflict to me is a natural thing that occurs because we are intelligent beings; we're not amoebas, and we don't think the same way. We can't find acceptance of others positions.

Conflict is where we find our differences and are not able to come to agreement or common ground. Conflict is absence of an agreement. I believe conflict stems from a lack of shared vision. Conflict is either a temporary (or) permanent departure from the shared path. It is people who have different expectations and commitments, who aren't able to express those in any way that leads to resolution or deeper understanding, so it ends up being a downward spiral effect.

Conflict is tension that is created when two or more people both try to get what they want without regard for the other person. Conflict to me is energy. It is failure to accept or understand another's point of view. Conflict occurs when there is a lack of understanding. My definition of conflict is when a group of people comes to a point that they don't share the same understanding and the conflict (is the point) is the friction, and the process they work in no longer works.


Conflict is awareness of forces, ideals or purposes in opposition to each other. It is a disagreement between individuals personality traits, between persons, between culture, between nations leading to a continuum of damages from disquietude to death. It is two diametrically opposed forces of equal or lesser value and I feel that you should be able to equate the problem and solve it.


Conflict is, I guess, based on disrespect between two parties or different parties. Conflict is mistrust; feelings that individual needs won't be taken care of or met based on past experiences. Differences in needs, wants and backgrounds without the appreciation for those differences and I feel to come to appreciation of those differences you have to change or look at something you might not otherwise want to.


Conflict arises when people don't take time to listen to each other or respect each other. Conflict occurs when people don't hear each other correctly. Conflict is blatant ignorance between two or more entities. Conflict comes from differences in willingness to listen to other party. Conflict arises from non-invalidation (no, no, no that's a double negative to Pia's comment about yin and yang). It's the lack of awareness that each part makes up the whole - that's why validation is important.


Conflict is inevitable because I think that is just part of the universe. It's inevitable in most situations. It's how we deal with it that defines our environment. There are three levels of conflict - first person, or intra-personal conflict within yourself; inter-personal or second person with someone else; third person - group conflict that you are not a part of but that you are facilitating. I feel anxious about the first two and comfortable with the third.

Conflict is a struggle within myself and among others. Conflict is differences that remain unresolved. Is two forces going toward each other. Conflict is a lack of ability or willingness to cope with possibilities. People think they want different things and can't get what they want because of other thinking.

I believe conflict is fear. There is only two emotions in this world - love & fear. So how I feel about it is "fear sucks and becomes conflict with positive energy. Conflict is opportunity and it's scary. Unresolved conflict spirals out of control and is very scary.

Conflict is a reaction based on our fear of losing control or not being in control. It is the process, internally or externally, of reacting to a perceived threat. It's a disagreement or difference in values, an expression of fear from negative experiences and through false perceptions. It's about human nature in not having a means to deal with the constant change we have in our environment.

Conflict is a tug of war. Conflict is divisive and sorrowful. Conflict is two separate viewpoints and/or two separate personalities.



HOW WE FEEL ABOUT CONFLICT

This leads to how I feel:

I tend to avoid it probably because it frustrates me. I feel frustrated. At times I feel frustrated yet when I can get away from the situation often solutions come that I can take back to the group which has better results than reacting at the time. It frustrates me and I feel frustration.

I hate it. It makes me feel uncomfortable. I don't enjoy it. I'm uncomfortable with it, but it's a great opportunity to grow. I feel threatened and overwhelmed and it upsets me. It hate it but I also know it's necessary. It makes me feel anxious, angry and frustrated.

It just something that's really truly uncomfortable. It feels scary. It feels very stressful. I don't know how to finish it, ah, I'll just leave it. It brings out a side of myself that I don't like and it usually makes me feel disappointed. A secondary response is that it is a necessary evil that creates tension that can lead to positive actions.

I feel troubled. I have a tendency while getting older to want to find resolution - common ground. When younger, I was more inclined to be solid in my position. I am trying to make an outcome that makes me happy when it should make everyone happy.

I feel like it's often seen negatively when it should seem positive. I want to avoid it and it kind of stifles my creativity. I have a tendency to want to resolve it because I see the inefficiency of not resolving it. My head likes the idea of that, because we need energy and diversity. But my heart is afraid of it.

My feelings vary, I feel it can be both dangerous and rewarding. I feel very invigorated and/or very frightened depending on the attitude I have. I feel it's inherent in all groups, but also has the potential to be very disrespectful. Sometimes it seems like barbed wire-it shuts me down & out, and other times it's just soup (a whole bunch of stuff in soup in one pot.)

My feelings are that it's good and bad. Bad because it make people fight and disagree. Good if everyone gets the same outcome. It think conflict is inside and outside. I dislike conflict but recognize that it is an opportunity. When I first encounter it, I feel overwhelmed. I used to avoid it but now see it presents opportunities.


I believe it is a choice. When I was younger I feared it. I found as I went through college to be a successful opportunity to learn and see another's point of view. Conflict is disharmony and it makes me feel agitated but I know that it stretches my boundaries if I try to resolve it. It can be positive. Where it becomes dangerous is when it can't be resolved and it grows into things that can be dangerous.


I feel conflict is opportunity. It is an opportunity for groups or people to resolve a misunderstanding that results in 1+1=3. It builds character. I feel that there should be a better way. I'm challenged to deal with it. It is cool and is definitely better than indifference. I feel important in growing and being able to resolve things and learn from others. It is always an opportunity to help others see a point of view. I am optimistic.


In some ways it's kind of a rush and I feel excited. It engages me to take action. In other ways, it stirs up anxiety, which isn't a bad thing. I feel challenged by opportunities conflict represents. I think it represents the dynamics of our society.


CONFLICT IS MORE THAN DIFFERENCE

A VISUAL EXPERIENCE

Most people initially define conflict as a difference of opinion, values, or beliefs. Or, they may state it is a disagreement between two or more people.

"Conflict is a difference of opinion between two or more people."

I want them to understand that conflict is more than that, that something is added to that disagreement or difference to cause the conflict. To do this I use a visual activity that physically involves some members of the group, and mentally and emotionally involves all the group.

I ask two members of the group to help me do this, normally two males, although I have used female and male pairs. I have them join me in the center of the group. The others move their chairs so they can see this activity.

A Demonstration of Difference or Disagreement: I ask Joe and Jon to join me in the center of the group, facing each other. I have Joe tell Jim he wants to walk in the direction he is facing, and Jim to do the same.

Joe: "I want to go that way (pointing ahead)."

Jim: "I want to go that way (pointing ahead and in the opposite direction)."

They each walk in the direction indicated and turn facing each other again. I point out to the group that this is difference, or disagreement. They each want to do something different than the other. But, this is not conflict. In the room, difference in dress, in colors, in hairstyle, height, age, shoe type are all evident, yet there is no apparent conflict because of it. Each person has made an individual choice, and no-one is threatened by it. Difference, by itself, is not conflict.

An Added Ingredient... Power: I have the two men repeat their statements, but this time, Joe tells Jim that he wants him to go his way:

Joe: ‘I want to go this way (pointing ahead)."

Jim: ‘I want to go this other way (pointing ahead and in the opposite direction).'

Joe: "No, I want you to go this way with me."

Jim: "I want to go this way, not your way (starting to walk ahead)."

Joe: ‘Well, I want you to go my way (standing in front of Jim and blocking him)."

Jim: "You can't tell me what to do, I want to go this way (trying to step around Joe)."

Joe: ‘I want you to go this way (steps in front of Jim and pushes him back with his hands on Jims' shoulders).'

Jim: "(Pushing back on Joes' shoulders) I want to go my way, not yours."

Both men are now pushing against each other, straining to gain ground. I have them.. Freeze! They stop shoving each other, but lean heavily on each other, straining their muscles, at an impasse.

"What has happened to their energy?" I ask rhetorically. "How much of this is available for the community focus? Conflict is difference, or disagreement, with power attached to it," I say, "and it ties up your energy. The focus is now not on the work you will do, but on who will win."

An Inter-personal Conflict Becomes an Inter-group Conflict: These two have created an inter-personal conflict between them over which direction to go, over who should decide. Their struggle, and the loss of energy, is plain to see by everyone in the organization or community. This struggle concerns those who watch it, in the workshop, and in real life situations.

Jim looks back over his shoulder and cries for help. (With a suggestion from me.)

Jim: "Sandy, come help me.' (Sandy does this and pushes against Joe.)

Joe responds in kind, looking over his shoulder:

Joe: ‘Bill, come help me." (Bill does this, pushing against Jim.)

These people respond, pushing in the direction of their friend. As the two continue to ask for help, others join in the pushing and shoving, until there are two groups of pushing, struggling individuals. There is much fun and laughter in doing this.

Then I ask them all to... Freeze!

"What has happened to all the energy of these people?" I ask rhetorically. Why did they join this conflict? How much of their energy is now available for their work?"


People joined this fray out of loyalty to their friends. They may not even know what the argument is about. But they have chosen a side now, and in so doing have created an inter-group conflict. This refocuses the energy of the group on the conflict, instead of work.

The entire group stands and honors those who participated in this learning exercise. They have helped them see that conflict is more than difference, it includes power. When one person decides that the other must do what he wants, then energy must be exerted to make that happen. If the other resists, then there is conflict. This is inter-personal at this stage. But, if others are asked to join, and they do so out of loyalty, then an inter-group conflict results. It takes power to make that happen.

The groups now read off their evidence that conflict is present in their environments. This describes in words what the visual activity demonstrated.


THE EVIDENCE OF CONFLICT IN OUR ENVIRONMENTS


Body language. Specifically, a lack of eye contact, arms fully crossed and increasing physical proximity to those in conflict with. The intuitive feeling that conflict is present, despite what might be said or is readily apparent.

How stressed out I am. The more stressed out I am the more conflict there is. What stresses me out are people who won't listen, won't talk, won't acknowledge the other side. Stress levels are high to the point of violence, even to self, often resulting in suicide, alcoholism, drug use, prison.

Increased hostility. Hostile behavior. Threats from people representing different points of view if not working in their favor. Conflict is/can get out of hand. It can get very stressful/dangerous so that someone can want to shoot someone. I guess that comes because we've always used war to resolve our conflicts.

Polarization. Some evidence is groups sitting on opposite sides of the room. Amassing the groups. I see stalemates. Has to do with a refusal to talk, a refusal to even consider the other side.

Negativity. Negative words or behaviors. Roadblocks. Obstructionism - disagreeing with little things for the sake of disagreeing

Disengagement from the process. Alienation. Separation.


A lack of communication. No communication or poor communication. A lack of communication, people don't want to communicate so they can avoid conflict. Lack of listening.

Nothing changes. No changing of minds. Status quo "It worked for years, why fix it if it isn't broken." or, "Let them deal with it." Often there's no evidence of conflict because there's agreement, but there's insidious, underlying conflict which could erupt eventually.

A lack of progress. Lack of forward progress on projects, still being caught up in process. Work is halted right now, not going anywhere - 2H + 10 to determine measuring and where to start from. A lack of a productive solution. I guess the lack of a productive solution is really obvious and a sure sign to me that some people are comfortable with conflict and will try to get the group in conflict to reach their comfort.

Evidence of conflict is the unnatural decaying in communities, natural environment and cities. Declining fishing populations. ESA listings. Water scarcity. That is because desired outcomes are not achieved. This causes people to focus on personal territories instead of positive outcomes. Self-orientation rather than other-orientation. Exclusive rather than inclusive.


Internally within our own organization - increases in union grievances, personnel complaints and more time spent on personnel actions. In my job the evidence of conflict is manifested in lawsuits, administrative appeals, endless hearings where people don't listen to each other, organized turnouts - both electronic, hard copy and telephone.

Externally - un-implemented projects, lawsuits, administrative appeals, congressional inquiries, and letters to the editor. Tangible evidence is lawsuits, newspapers and conversations in social settings where these conversation would be different if there was an absence of conflict. Litigation, increased enrollment in law school, and longer legislative session. Media and publication pros and cons and fierce editorials. Letters to the editor and any other weapon you can get your hand on to prove your point.

Evidence is a lack of a system to apply the tools for change. Both sides believe they are right in the use of tools to achieve goals. There is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty due to a lack of science as it applies to the health of the natural resources.

Disrespectful thoughts, words or actions. Evidence is blaming, taking sides, power struggles, heckling, making jokes about the other sides. Naming and blaming and finger pointing. Gossip, fear, distrust. Side bar conversations directed at another person. Hard feelings.

Conflict is inevitable. Change happens. It's time to change and use other processes because eliminating the person leads to eliminating another which leads to eliminating another which results in the same. In all of that is dynamic and while I recognize that it is human, I also know we have the capacity to raise up, and include others or make a better community/world.


THE WORST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF

CONFRONTING/NOT CONFRONTING UNRESOLVED CONFLICT

The small groups explored the worst possible outcomes of confronting and not confronting unresolved conflict. Those who tend to confront conflict approach it with the "FIGHT" response. Their response is based on a worst fear... that they will lose. The result is that they respond with exaggerated behaviors. Their response will be loud, conspicuous, and appear aggressive.

Those who avoid conflict use the "FLIGHT" response. Their worst fear is that confronting the conflict could endanger their life. They fear violence and vindictiveness.

Since each group has a different worst outcome focus, their communication is often incompatible and discordant. The aggressor will overstate the problem, the avoider will understate the response.

These worst outcomes affect the beliefs, strategies and behaviors of the groups. They affect relationships so that information exchange is severely hindered. Openness and honesty are inconceivable. Hidden agendas are paramount. This actually may foster the worst outcomes of an issue.

Exploring the worst possible outcomes of confronting and not confronting unresolved conflict helps the participants to recognize that worst outcomes exist under either scenario, that the outcomes are essentially similar.

These worst outcomes are possible. They are probably present, at some level, in the environment. They create the reactive force that develops the actions, strategies and behaviors of the participants.

These worst outcomes often describe the existing situation from the parties viewpoints. It indicates that they have, in fact, created the self-fulfilling prophecies for what they want to avoid.

THE QUESTIONS: (The facilitator selects a new facilitator and becomes the recorder.)


* WHAT ARE THE WORST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF CONFRONTING UNRESOLVED CONFLICT IN YOUR ENVIRONMENT?


* WHAT ARE THE WORST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF NOT CONFRONTING UNRESOLVED CONFLICT IN YOUR ENVIRONMENT?


THE WORST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF CONFRONTING

UNRESOLVED CONFLICT IN OUR ENVIRONMENT



Conflict will continue to grow on a particular issue and spread into other issues. The confrontation will create new, unresolved conflicts or agitation, or opening Pandora's box. Basically, the spread of the conflict to other seemingly unrelated areas, breakdown of the social fabric of the community and complete chaos.

The worst side of individuals is exposed and the ugly side comes out. There is resentment leading to anger, yelling, screaming, cussing and violence. More screaming than laughter; collapse of the planet and subsequent loss of chocolate cheesecake. There is sadness, distrust, low morale. People will lose and get the opposite result of what they want.

Relationships get worse and groups become more polarized. There is a decrease of healthy bonding opportunities within the community. The perpetuation of ill feelings cause continued deterioration of community and productivity.

Issues stay unresolved so stakeholders remove themselves. There is stalemate and stagnation. The window of opportunity for resolving the conflict at that time may be lost.

War. Fear leads to war and death.

"Recommended reading "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss."

and the United Nations will take over.


THE WORST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF NOT CONFRONTING

UNRESOLVED CONFLICT IN OUR ENVIRONMENT?


No one takes ownership of the problem or solution so the situation get worse. The issue boils inside participants. Unintended consequences and unrecoverable events occur. Other conflicts spin off the central unresolved conflict. There is a lack of respect from outside for the community to make it's own decisions.

Obviously nothing would get resolved and people would not be able to work together. No resolution will be found. There is continued polarization.

The negative energy will destroy relationships. People can become alienated and friendships and respect are lost. Continued degradation of our ecosystems perpetuates conflict that spills over into other areas of our community, and results in unhappy people.

The environment will suffer from our inactivity. The health of the environment suffers. Let's see, no return of the salmon, continued racial prejudice, filthy streams, stagnant people; poverty; fear and the loss of agricultural community. Water quality and fish populations decline.

The natural resources and natural resource problems will not get fixed. Mistrust festers and progress halts. Power goes to the regulatory agencies because you have to have a hammer since nobody is doing anything and the courts decide. The transaction costs significantly increase.

The degraded environment will lead to economic losses. We waste time and money. Morale declines. Turnover increases. The ripple effect increases. People hate coming into work.

That we do live our worst possible outcomes and out of fear. Unresolved conflicts rob the combatants of their ability to reach their own goals, and the frustration of that is poison. Self-fulfilling prophecies come true. We said "no" to possibility. There is increased mistrust and lack of progress.

We create an uncertain future for our children which carries over into other generations. Wasted lives result in that opportunity for positive and become negative. Violence occurs and future generations will resort to violence as the only solution to conflict. That conflict escalates into legal, physical and emotional violence within the community. Events like 911 happen.

The salmon don't come back.


* A RELATIONSHIP PROCESS

Of all the influences we have in our life, relationships with others are the most important. We cannot communicate without relationships, we cannot have conflicts without relationships, we cannot have power without relationships.

During the 1960s and 70s many studies were done with groups, trying to understand the way in which groups are formed. A series of developmental stages were identified that apply equally well to one-on-one relationships. These have been described in many ways, using different terms, but I have found the following description the easiest to remember because it rhymes.

Remember, though, that this is a road map. It appears linear because it is described in stages, each following the other. In actual experience, we go about this in very different ways. Some stages are fast, others slow, some stages may be left out, some stages may be repeated. Be aware of this as you explain it to others.

STAGE 1. FORMING:

We first meet as strangers, seeking something that will bind us. Our initial conversation is a search... where do you live, who do you know, what do you do? Each of these seeks some commonality that we can talk about, begin to develop a relationship around.

This is the time when similarities are important. We like to be with people who are the same as us. This is the most non-threatening stage of a relationship. We develop a relationship that is safe.

There are some who seek difference, who purposefully seek out that which is different than them. Those they find are also seeking difference. This is their similarity as a basis for the relationship.

STAGE 2. STORMING:

This stage begins when we are confronted with our differences. That which brought us together is suddenly threatened. Because we are curious creatures, we are normally unwilling to be satisfied with the boredom of sameness. We begin to test the boundaries of our relationship. We begin to mold the other person to meet our needs. This is a movement to the use of power in the relationship.

We are all different in some way, from each other. We differ in our ages, our cultures, our experiences when we grew up.

In the forming stage we may agree on the value of family traditions at Holiday times. We like having the tree with Christmas bulbs and tinsel. This is our similarity. But, when it comes time to share Christmas together, we find that there are differences in approach we had not discussed before.


So, I may want to buy a white fir for Christmas, because this is the way it has always been in my family. But, my wife wants a cedar tree, because this is the way it has always been in her family. I want my soft light bulbs that I have used for years, she wants her bulbs, the kind that blink on and off all the time. They make me nervous after being in the room for a while.

I like to just toss the package of tinsel at the tree and watch it naturally arrange itself as it floats to the ground. Pat likes to place each individual strand on the individual branchlets of the tree. Who decides?

Well, in my culture, the English, the male is the final authority. I will get to decide. I expect my wife to "conform," to comply. This is the approach I was taught to use in my culture. I learned to conform to authority, to what was expected. In fact, my generation was known as the "age of conformity." We wore the same clothes, worked an 8-5 shift, had "standard" job descriptions, worked to "keep up with the Joneses."

My wife, however, is younger, a feminist, coming from the age of rebellion, the 60's. She is also American Indian, where there is a matriarchy, and decisions such as this are left up to the woman. She decides she will not conform, she has every right to have a say in this issue.

Now we are entering the stage of storming. We have different approaches that have to be resolved. Normally they are resolved by you conforming to my needs, so that you continue to "look like me." That is the safest, most stable relationship to have. It is also the most boring, uninteresting relationship to have.

But, what if you don't conform? What if you stand up for your views? Then I must "force" you, and that is the beginning of the "power struggle", the beginning of real conflict. If I am a flight person, I will appear to comply, and move the storming to the non-verbal arena, by resisting quietly, with passive aggression.

If I am a fight person, I will pit my power against yours. We are in a power struggle, a real storming is occurring. We are now reactive, emotional, motivated by worst outcomes.

There must be a solution to this storming. An impasse is not desired. We rely on the common approaches to conflict resolution. I may deny the problem exists. Or, I may distance myself from the issue, by not talking to you about it, by not speaking to you, or by placing myself where you are not seen.

I may seek a divorce, a termination of the relationship. Then I can do what I want without having to be in a power struggle with you. Or, if the unresolved conflict is too much to bear, death becomes an alternative.


This is the motivation behind the violent shootings of postal workers by a former co-worker, recently. Because he lost his grievance, and could not accept the decision, he felt compelled to visit death upon those who participated, including himself. The inability to somehow resolve the storming phase of conflict is probably behind much of the violence we see in society today.

STAGE 2A: THE PAUSE THAT REFRESHES: This stage is not referred to in the behavioral literature, but I have observed it is necessary. Once the confrontation occurs, a pause is instrumental in facilitating the norming. The pause is similar to "distancing," in that it allows some time to consider, to adapt.

In a consensus session, I provide a break after a group has described the situation, and explored their worst possible outcomes of the situation. This leads them through the storming, and prepares them for the norming. A break allows the mind to re-consider the situation, to re-assess the severity of the worst outcomes.

I normally provide a break after the parties have confronted each other. I pose a question before the break; "How are we going to resolve this to meet all the parties needs?"

After the break, exploring the best possible outcomes develops the basis for the norming. the beliefs and behaviors that foster the best outcome are the norming.

After confronting each other, often in a reactive way, on an issue like the Christmas Holidays, Pat and I will separate, go to different rooms, or I may go for a walk. This allows us to think of what was said, to re-assess our emotional reaction, to become more proactive. We can decide how much we overstated our case. We can decide how much of our connection to the way we do it is "loyalty" to the past. We can consider the points of the other party. Now we are ready for "norming."

STAGE 3: NORMING: In this stage the participants recognize that these differences must somehow be dealt with in a mature and growing way. A decision must be made that the relationship is too important to end. The participants must first affirm that the differences exist. They seek to understand why they are present. This means learning to understand the other person better. Then the question is asked:

How can we have these differences and still remain in the relationship?

For Pat and I the answer was obvious. The relationship was too important to be the cause of dissension. So, I agreed to buy a cedar tree if I could put my bulbs on it. She put the tinsel on it, a piece at a time. I stayed away from this process, unable to understand the patience it took to do this. The Holidays were somewhat strained, because it was different, but enjoyable.


The next year, it was easy to agree I would get my fir tree, use her blinkety bulbs, and I would get to decorate the tree with the tinsel, my way. Well, Pat actually helped a bit on that.

We have begun to seriously norm, adapting slowly so that we are able to accept and appreciate each others differences. We are proactive, thinking our relationship through, fostering best outcomes.

The following year, we bought the prettiest tree we had ever seen. We both liked it, a noble fir. We also bought some new bulbs. And, believe it or not, I found the patience to decorate the tree a strand of tinsel at a time. We enjoyed the experience together. Now, we are entering the next stage, Performing.

STAGE 4: PERFORMING: From this point on, once the norming is established, the relationship can perform at peak levels. There is still difference, but it adds to the richness of the relationship experience, because it is understood, accepted, appreciated. The relationship flows in a natural way, saving time because there is a common focus and an understood approach.

STAGE 5: STORMING - REFORMING: Rarely will a relationship remain for long in the performing stage. The journey through the storming to the norming will cause movement and growth in each person. This changes the nature of their perceptions, and their information base. This in turn affects their beliefs and behaviors. They will become different people.

In time, a new issue will arise between the parties. One party will want to do something new and different, as a result of personal growth. The result is a movement to storming, and as resistance builds, a desire for re-forming. The other party resists, wanting to keep things in the new and accepted way, wanting the other to conform to this new way.

This will require the relationship to repeat the process for storming, norming in order to return to performing.

The cycle is continuous, to be repeated as each person continues to grow and seek to reach his and her potential. Yet, the desire will continue to be to seek stability, to have conformity. It is easier, on the surface, and the reactive and emotional storming stage can be avoided.


A RELATIONSHIP PROCESS

CON - FORMING - RE
Coping approach   Response
Deny
Distance
Demean
Disable
Divorce
Death
STORMING Reactive
Worst Possible Outcomes
Power Struggle

 
PAUSE
 
   
NORMING
 
Proactive
Best Possible Outcomes
Empowerment

 
PERFORMING
 


THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF

CONFRONTING AND RESOLVING CONFLICTS

AROUND FISH/WATER/PEOPLE

The groups explored the best possible outcomes of confronting and resolving conflicts in their environment related to Fish/Water/People, and then record them on the easel. This allows the participants to express their intended outcomes if they take the risk of confronting conflicts in the group.

Recording on the 3 x 5 card allows the individuals to go internal and deliberately consider the best possible outcomes they want to foster. Since they often do not think of best outcomes, this activity allows them to be more pro-active and deliberative. The worst outcomes are recorded in a more reactive way, directly to the easel. This is because the worst possible outcomes are immediately and emotionally available in the memories of the individuals.

This task establishes what they want, a vision that will create new strategies, actions and behaviors that will tend to foster the desired outcome. These outcomes affect relationships so that information exchange is facilitated, and this may foster the best outcomes of an issue.

These best outcomes are possible. They are probably present, at some level, in the environment. They create the reactive force that develops the new beliefs, behaviors, strategies and actions of the participants.

THE QUESTION:


* WHAT ARE THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF CONFRONTING AND RESOLVING FISH, WATER, PEOPLE CONFLICTS IN YOUR ENVIRONMENT?


THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF CONFRONTING AND RESOLVING

FISH, WATER PEOPLE CONFLICTS IN OUR ENVIRONMENT

A SUMMARY

"A web of interdependence, trust, creativity and pro-action is developed between community members, which is adapted and dance-like, ever-changing and dependable, resulting in increased richness in the world as a whole."

o We will see healthy environments and communities. The community sees there is a healthy way of dealing with conflict and 100% consensus can be achieved. We are building a prosperous community and solve community concerns in a collaborative manner.


o There is a new norm and expectation for community interaction and dialog. There is immense personal, spiritual and community growth. There is peace, love and harmony. There is harmony between self, group, community and nature.

o Communities are happy. The entire community benefits. Our quality of live will increase as a whole. We will have enough time to enjoy our lives. By increasing energy, creativity and productivity, there will be a sense of accomplishment and relief.

o We will have clean air and water and viable ecosystems for wildlife, and the community is healthy and prosperous. The ecosystem gets fixed: streams will be restored and water quality improvedresulting in return of the salmon, abundant salmonids and other fish populations. Natural resources are restored.

o There is responsible use of resources. There is progress toward the attainment of sustainable resources, including values. Sustainable practices and happier ecosystems result. This sustainability captures the essence of all of us.

o People will feel empowered because they were part of the process. We have a belief in resolving conflicts. We can do anything including healing the earth.

o New relationships develop and existing relationships improve. We will build powerful new coalitions.


o I will feel I've made a substantial contribution to my community.

o As a result, the salmon come back, the spotted owl returns, the economy improves, people's customs, cultures and property rights are preserved.


THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF CONFRONTING AND RESOLVING

THE CONFLICTS IN OUR ENVIRONMENT

"A web of interdependence, trust, creativity and pro-action is developed between community members, which is adapted and dance-like, ever-changing and dependable, resulting in increased richness in the world as a whole."

We will see healthy environments and communities. More powerful and healthy environments in which to build on and live in. Our community will be happy and productive. Our families will be strong and our environments will be on the road to restoration.

The community sees there is a healthy way of dealing with conflict and 100% consensus can be achieved. Conflicts are resolved. Conflicts resolved. Consensus is reached. We are able to reach consensus. A win, win, win situation results. Unwanted pressure from conflict will be resolved. We move on to other issues and refocus priorities. All are enriched. Power becomes equalized.

We are building a prosperous community and solve community concerns in a collaborative manner. Ever finer or smaller conflicts come to the forefront and when resolved strengthen community results. It gives confidence in the process and trust in others so each subsequent conflict is a more resolvable and successful partnership through empowerment.

There is a new norm and expectation for community interaction and dialog. We can work with people whether you like them or not. Polarized communities in my town will grow to understand each other. The University will recognize itself as a single community with the ability to reach consensus. Prosperity results. Money and time are put to the best possible use.

There is immense personal, spiritual and community growth. Renewed friendships result. We have success for everyone, happiness, smiles and warm cheeks, handshakes and milkshakes. We have more time for fun. More time for love. Good energy.

There is peace, love and harmony. "Peace, Love and Happiness." Peace on earth, good will towards all results, while my neighbor and I enjoy this with the lion and the lamb who lie down together after they've eaten.

There is harmony between self, group, community and nature. Harmony returns to family and community. People recognize and want to understand relationships between all things on the planet. Our spirit of cooperation is renewed. Harmony. Compromise. Solution. Resource. Grows. Impacts. Evolves. Community.

Communities are happy. The community is at peace. Healthy, safe communities, families and individuals. It is something to leave our children. Progress will continue to move us forward. People will know how to work through conflict in the future. We create a happier working environment. There is strength in and of numbers.

The entire community benefits. The community is viewed positively. An energized community that is willing to resolve issues. Community celebrations include the whole community. Improved health and community and a pleased and content society. There is a feeling of safety.

Our quality of live will increase as a whole. Our way of life continues and thrives. The land heals and is productive. We have deep ownership of who we are and what we want. There is no poverty. There is food for everyone. Our children have a future. There is a rise of the "warm fuzzies" and the fall of the "cold pricklies." We face and destroy our personal demons. Harmony, happiness and peace of mind.

We will have enough time to enjoy our lives. Young cowboys, Indians and maybe farmers are skinny dipping and fishing in clean water. They are having fun. There are hydrogen cell Volvo's with sport packages and spoilers for everyone.

By increasing energy, creativity and productivity, there will be a sense of accomplishment and relief. Increased happiness and growth allows the individual to be successful in achieving their goals. And new ideas will emerge that were not initially considered. It creates a new climate for addressing a wider range of issues that improves the esteem of the group, keeps joy in the job and energizes folks. Everyone from rocks to human thrive. Yahoo!!

We will have clean air and water and viable ecosystems for wildlife, and the community is healthy and prosperous. We are an invigorated society resulting in a building society. Not only do both/all parties achieve their best possible outcomes, but the salmon and the environment win as well.

The ecosystem gets fixed: streams will be restored and water quality improvedresulting in return of the salmon, abundant salmonids and other fish populations. There will be bird sounds every where. Raindrops hang out for a long time in the uplands. Agriculture and other uses will be sustainable. Clean food produced on clean land. Improved environment.

Natural resources are restored. Healthy streams through bringing people together will reduce bureaucracy and increase habitat restoration. Watersheds and aquifers are recharged. Our streams will become healthy. We will have clean water, clean air, clean power. Fish are off the ESA list and environments of all types improve. We create an aesthetically pleasing environment. The Salmon come back.

There is responsible use of resources. We will increase water retention in soil, species diversity, accumulate biomass and manage to maintain carbon on the earth. Resource, salmon and wildlife flourish without stagnancy in production.

There is progress toward the attainment of sustainable resources, including values. That positive change occurs. Progress is made, friendships and respect generated so people can move on to resolve more issues. We are establishing the foundation necessary for adjusting identified goals and objectives and recognizing new goals and objectives.

Sustainable practices and happier ecosystems result. Environmental, optimum biophylic conditions will maintain or regenerate. Properly functioning conditions (PFC) exist on all streams and rivers.

This sustainability captures the essence of all of us. There is more respect between people and with the earth. A web of interdependence, trust, creativity and pro-action is developed between community members, which is adapted and dance-like, ever-changing and dependable, resulting in increased richness in the world as a whole.


People will feel empowered because they were part of the process. People will take ownership because they were a part of it. People will feel ownership in, and empowered by the process.Future actions embraced by all parties.

We have a belief in resolving conflicts. We will build capacity to resolve future conflicts. We prepare the group to resolve future conflicts. This prepares individuals in the group to resolve individual conflicts. This creates confidence in our skills to resolve future conflicts and a knowing that conflicts add value. Plans will be formed to deal with conflicts and it will be implemented.

We can do anything including healing the earth. The impossible becomes possible. "Us v. Them" becomes "We can do this." That 1+1=3.

New relationships develop and existing relationships improve. There is improved trust and relationships. We have a greater understanding and appreciation for each other. We heal our relationships. With this in mind, conflict continues but without the fear and anger of the past.

We will build powerful new coalitions. It will result in the formation of new and positive teams and friendships. Partnerships are formed. There are more tribal members who feel empowered in the community. A group is energized, a force to be reckoned with, and is admired by all in the community. We reach a better outcome. We have respect and ownership between the parties.

I will feel I've made a substantial contribution to my community. For the facilitators to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant." In the big picture, a positive feedback loop. Most importantly, chocolate cheesecake becomes a national icon.

As a result, the salmon come back, the spotted owl returns, the economy improves, people's customs, cultures and property rights are preserved. We implement a plan that succeeds in bringing back salmon while still allowing people and communities to prosper.


FOSTERING THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES

Once the best outcomes have been established, then is the time to develop the movement to make them happen. Fostering the best outcomes will often require looking at beliefs, behaviors, strategies and actions. Each of these is a different focus:


o BELIEF: A conviction or opinion. These create the behaviors of the person.

o BEHAVIOR: Deportment or demeanor (a persons manner towards others). These are manners and attitudes that are created by the basic beliefs of a person.

o STRATEGY: A plan of action. A strategy is intended to carry out a vision or mission. It is also a way of actualizing a belief. Strategies are often developed that are incongruent with the persons beliefs. The behaviors will then override the intent of the strategy.

o ACTION: The act, process or fact of doing something. These are specific deeds that carry out the intent of the strategy. If they are not congruent with the person's beliefs, they sill be nullified by the persons attitudes and demeanor.

We are used to focusing only on action plans, or strategies. This is appropriate if the change is one of modification, where the beliefs are congruent with the plan.

If the beliefs are not consistent with the plans, they will not be carried out. The behavior will tend to be incongruent with the action. In this instance, the new and adaptive beliefs must be agreed to.

THE QUESTION:


* WHAT NEW, ADAPTIVE BELIEFS/BEHAVIORS AND STRATEGIES/ACTIONS WILL FOSTER THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES?


NEW ADAPTIVE BELIEFS AND BEHAVIORS THAT WILL FOSTER

THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES

(Beliefs are shown in bold and behaviors are indented.)

Respect for the Earth and the utilization of natural resources can occur responsibly and a sustainably.

Acknowledge and actively work to understand the inter-relationships of all things on earth. Consider those relationships in all decisions.


Respect the natural world, listen to others, communicate, take the perspective of your opposite, suspend your frame of reference.


We all can be an effective facilitator and teacher of the consensus-building process.

Trust in yourself and your personal power.

o Understanding the relationship process and consciously working with it.

The beliefs are respect, honor, trust, the value of sharing and strength in community.


Honor balance. Balancing scarcity with abundance. Turning weakness into strengths. The "Holistic perspective."

Showing respect. Trust. Open minds. Truth and honesty. Offer silence.

Believe in the value of others points of view. Foster shared decision making.

Have a sense of humor.

Be accountable.

Give thanks.

The belief that 100% consensus can be achieved. The belief that conflict will lead to mutually acceptable outcomes and the behavior of listening with respect. The collective will of a community can, through consensus building, be shifted to achieve a best possible outcome. Win/Win can occur.

Willingness to respect and cooperate with others in developing solutions. Focus on what you want to achieve instead of on the problems.

Foster the equitable distribution of wealth.

Believe the impossible can happen. We can influence our future and political leadership. Consensus is impossible and possible. Believe it is possible. The impossible can be done and the condition of the environment is a reflection of the condition of our lives.


Believe change for the better is possible, and then be willing and courageous enough to take the first step.


Give your tested beliefs sufficient time to change. Be patient.


We can do it with an optimistic attitude to foster best possible results. Believe that it can be done. The new outcome is possible. Yes, we can!

Foster optimism and having hope. Hope and belief.

See yourself in the new reality. Be it. Commit to it. Be the salmon!

Trust and belief that anything can be accomplished.

Believe in possibilities, in the power of individuals, in the power of groups and in conquering the impossible, that the solution is possible and there is a solution that can serve all stakeholders.

We are all on the same playing field, believing that there are Win-Win solutions to everything.

All people are good. I'm okay-you're okay.

o Trust people, trust the process. Trust in humans and self.

o Trust in self and others to do the right thing given the opportunity.

Believe in the success of the process and trust in the good intentions of the group.

That my own fondly and fiercely held beliefs are only a part of the big picture.

Totally commit to your belief knowing that most likely it will be wrong.

Examine whether your "reality" is bound up with your cultural assumptions.

Encourage personal paradigm shifts.

A belief that we are unique individuals and all are valuable assets in achieving solutions, with behaviors such as respect, trust, active listening, communication, respect and understanding.

Practice non-judgement and foster a better understanding.

Don't take things personally.

Take the perspective of your opposite, suspend your frame of reference. Make no assumptions.

Acknowledge like-minded and non-like-minded thoughts and beliefs. Respectfully disagree.

Change the context from "me" to "we," from "survival of the fittest" to the "survival of ALL."

Becoming adaptive and accommodating.


Diversity is rich. Adverse opinions and views are okay.

Tolerance. Acceptance of differences.

Reach out to new partners.

Everyone has input of value. A belief that the story has more to it than I initially know.

Showing respect to those with different views from my own. Recognition that there are different perspectives and dimensions to issues, but that we can find a basis to establish common ground.

Accepting all opinions as valid. Be respectful when you disagree.

All people need to be listened to respectfully. We will listen with respect and appreciation.

o Listening with Respect. Respect for all opinions and values. Promote and engage in respectful listening & verbal sharing.

o Let everyone be heard. We should all listen, and hear. Listen. Listening well. Effective, respectful listening.

Invest yourself in all aspects, view points, and try to understand. Reinvest and find the best outcome given your new understanding.

Treat everybody equally, respectfully, as they have something important to say.

o Listening with respect and listening to understand.

o Active listening. Active listening and the process of honoring and recognition.

o Listening with empathy. Letting your guard down. Patience. Communication.

o Listening well remembering we have "two ears, one mouth."

We believe in listening with respect and listening to understand.


We will listen to what is said and hear what is behind what is said, knowing that improved listening results in better understanding.

We should all listen, and hear. We will listen fully and come from trust.

Improved listening results in better understanding.

o Listen fully and come from trust.

o Listen to what is said and hear what's behind what is said.

Conflict is an opportunity. From discomfort comes the space and energy for positive change. The belief that conflict will lead to mutually acceptable outcomes and the behavior of listening with respect.

From discomfort comes the space and energy for positive change. It will make a difference.

Choose a positive attitude and approach.

Focus on what you want to be achieved instead of the problems.

Have a willingness to compromise.

Foster a willingness to change. Develop open mindedness. Think outside the box.

Giving your tested beliefs sufficient time. Be patient.

Value differing opinions. Willingness to respect and cooperate with others in developing solutions.

Remember that change for change's sake is diversion, not enlightenment. Science can and has been wrong.

People really want to make things better, but we're all starting from a different place and tell a unique part of a story. Everyone can and will learn, if treated well and listened to in a respectful manner.

Finally... LOVE!


* THE TIES THAT BIND

What is a relationship? That is the question I ask as I lead the group into an exploration of relationships, loss and change. Their answer is diverse, as diverse as they are.

The question is asked to get their definition, and to bring them into the arena of discussing relationships. The definition provides an opportunity for the collective view before the activity begins.

1. TWO PEOPLE, TWO RELATIONSHIPS: I ask two people, a male and female, to help me in the center of the circle. I have pieces of yarn in my hands, each about 40 inches long. I refer to them as relationship strings, the "Tie That Binds." I hand each a piece of the yarn. I ask them to connect the relationship strings with each other. They look like this:

A B

Person A has a relationship with person B. Person B also has a relationship with Person A. Each of these relationships are associated with a differing perception.

I give an example. Person A is Sally. She tells her friends, "Ted is the man for me. He takes me everywhere; to the movies, the ball game, to picnics with his friends. He tells me his dreams and his hopes. I know he is going to ask me to marry him some day." That describes her relationship perception.

Person B is Ted. Ted tells his friends, "Sally is a wonderful friend. She is just like one of the guys. She goes to the ball game, and is always available when I want to see a movie. I sure like to tell her these crazy ideas I have about life. I hope that when I meet the right woman, she will let me keep Sally for a friend." That is his perception of the relationship.

Obviously, these people have different perceptions of their relationship. Yet, they believe and behave as if their perception is the same.

It is only when Sally wants Ted to go to the opera with her on Monday night, and she finds that Ted has a date with the guys to watch football that he won't change, that their differing needs and wants become obvious. Her disappointment, and his confusion, are a measure of their differing perceptions.

2. THE MULTIPLIER EFFECT: Let's suppose, though, that Sally is right. They do get married. They decide to have a family. Soon, in the appropriate amount of time, they have a bouncing baby boy born to them.

Cute little Roger arrives with a relationship string for Mom and a relationship string for his Dad. They each also have a relationship string for him. I ask another volunteer to come out into the center of the circle to be the baby, and give each the appropriate number of strings. They connect them, a clumsy and uncertain process, just as the establishment of relationships is.

This is how the relationship strings look now.

ROGER

SALLY TED

Be aware of the number of relationships strings. While they have introduced one new member the family, they have increased their relationship strings to 6, a threefold increase. Each person added has a multiplier effect.

Baby Roger thinks; "If I cry, Mom do drop everything to feed me." Mom's response is; "I can't leave this stove while the food is cooking, so he will have to wait."

Dad buys his son a baseball mitt for Christmas. He wants him to play ball professionally. Roger is sad because he wanted a guitar. He wants to make music, to sing. Each is disappointed by this mis-perception.

Suppose they have a second child, a beautiful, intelligent girl, Ann. Ann has 3 relationship strings, for her Mom, for Dad, for Roger. They each have one for her.

ROGER

SALLY TED

ANN

There are now 12 relationships to be managed in this family. This is 6 times the original 2 relationship perceptions! Those who are married with children know how much additional energy it takes to manage this situation.

Sally loves her brother and wants to be anywhere he is. Roger is embarrassed by his younger sister tagging along. He teases her and sends her home crying. Each person has a different perception of the relationship.

(The number increases as more people are added to the relationship circle. The formula is: Number of persons times the Number of persons minus one (N X N - 1). Ten people have 90 relationships (10 X 9). Twenty people have 380 relationships to manage (20 X 19).)

A manager making a change presentation to an audience of 100 doubting publics is managing 9900 relationships (100 x 99). This is why it is important in these situations to use small group process. Each group of ten is then managing only 90 relationships.

3. RELATIONSHIPS WITH THINGS: We also have relationships with things. You have a relationship with your car, and it has one with you. You depend on the car to start, until one morning it decides to let you down. It is not as dependable as you perceived.

Or, you may have a relationship with alcohol. You believe that you can stop drinking any time you want. The alcohol knows you can't, and is able to tempt you to continue.

This relationship with a thing may affect the entire family. I can tell if it does by listening to the family members. If Mom complains to her husband about drinking all the time, she is connected to the alcohol. If the daughter is embarrassed by here Dad's drunken behavior at a ball game, she has a relationship with the alcohol. If our family above has an alcoholic father, and this affects their relationship, the diagram looks like this:

ROGER

Alcohol

SALLY TED

ANN

When Ted comes home drunk, he affects all the members of the family. Sally argues with Ted over the drinking. Roger and Ann may choose sides, one of them defending their father. This affects their relationship with their mother. They are now managing 20 relationship strings (5 X 4). This increases the energy it takes to manage their family by 67% (8/12).

4. RELATIONSHIPS WITH ORGANIZATIONS:


We can have a relationship with an impersonal thing, like an organization. Ted believes that the Computer Business he works for is like a family. He has no concerns about his job, because they will take care of him. Then the organization sells out to a larger firm that replaces. Ted feels betrayed, because he thought the organization had the same belief that he has.

If Ted just works normal hours, and doesn't take his work home with him, then the organization relationship is only with Ted. But, if Ted works late at nights, and is unavailable for his family because he is always in deep thought about his work, then the organization relationship is connected with the family.

Sally will complain to him about his always being at work. Roger is mad because Dad can't attend his soccer game. Ann is miffed because he missed her birthday party.

They now have 30 relationships to manage (6 x 5), an increase of 50%)

If Sally has a relationship with the church that keeps her away from the family, this too affects them all. If increases Ted's reliance on alcohol. The children act out to get their mothers attention. They now have 42 relationships to manage (7 X 6).


5. RELATIONSHIP WITH CONFLICTS: Unresolved conflicts have a way of becoming part of the relationships in a family. If Dad and Mom have an argument over where to spend their holidays, this eventually affects them all. The children roll up their eyes and go to their friends home. Again, they may take sides. Ted just drinks more, using the Holiday as an excuse. Mom spends more time with the church.

Each unresolved conflict impacts other unresolved conflicts. Sally tells Ted he would not be so stubborn about the tree if he wasn't always drunk. He tells her he wouldn't drink if she would agree to move to a new location. They are now managing 56 relationship perceptions (8 X 7).

5. RELATIONSHIP WITH CHANGE: Ted wants to move to a new location where he can get a promotion. He can't understand why Sally won't move. Maybe they could start over in their relationship and leave the old one behind.

Sally doesn't want to leave the security of her work with the church. The children don't want to leave their school and friends.

Friends ROGER School

Christmas Tree alcohol

Church Promotion move

SALLY TED

School ANN Friends

This family is trying to manage 132 relationship strings (12 X 11). No wonder they feel stressed out when they get together. No wonder they don't get together very often. Sally is at Church, Ted at the bar, the children at their friends.

These relationships take energy to manage. Each unresolved conflict and change event "piggybacks" energy on the other. When Ted and Sally argue about alcohol, the church, the tree, the promotion, the school and friends become instruments of war.


6. RELATIONSHIP WITH LOSS: If Sally gives in and agrees with a move, this creates more stress. For each member of the family there is a process of "letting go" and "taking hold" that must happen.

Ted must let go of the old position, and take hold of the new one. Sally has to do the same with the church, the children with their friends and school. The change doubles the number of relationships to manage from 12 to 24. This increases the number of relationship bonds to 552 (24 X 23).

In order to reduce the stress with change, this family must confront the changes they are going through. This begins with reaching closure with the present and the past. The family members explore two questions:

"How do you feel about leaving this location (friends, school job, etc.)?"

"What did you learn here that you want to take to the new experience with you?"

This allows the family to acknowledge the change, to express their feelings, and grieve about it, to move on to acceptance. Answering these questions allows the past to be integrated into their memory, into their being. This reduces the number of relationship they manage by half, and the number of relationship strings from 552 to 132.

Acceptance continues by reaching out to make sense of the future experience. Similar questions are answered to take hold of the new location:

"How do you feel about going to the new location (friends, school job, etc.)?"

"What do you want to learn from this new experience?"

This process helps the family move through all the change stages. (See Learning Manual 1.)

CHANGE ONE, CHANGE THEM ALL

Some are panicked by the notion of all these strings. If you are facing the notion of working with 20 people, then there are 380 relationships to manage (20 x 19). This appears impossible.

Yet, the real power is in the one-on-one relationship. All relationships are interrelated. Touch one and you touch them all. Improve on one and you affect them all. There is no way of knowing if the move is positive or negative, but there is still movement.

Let me refer to a personal anecdote.


My Dad was a rounder. By that I mean that he lived a life separate from the family. He meant well, but alcohol, and other women, had a stronger relationship with him than the family did. As a result, he left my mother and the family in the 1960's, long after I had left the nest, but while there were still others at home. The family, all eight of us children, and our mother, disowned him.

It was not an overt or openly discussed decision. It was a silent and non-verbal acknowledgment that he just did not exist. He left us, we left him.

In 1973, I was fortunate to be promoted to a position that exceeded any I had previously aspired to. It was a promotion that was unusual, that honored me for my aggressiveness, that was intended to send a message to the others who were my peers.

I was naturally excited and proud. I went to the new assignment at the new location with anticipation. I immersed myself into the new assignment with pleasure, gusto. I felt affirmed and acknowledged each day. I felt fulfilled.

I sat on the edge of the patio one evening, as the sun set, and the cool breezes came over me from the marsh. I sat there in my state of contentment, whistling. A slow, satisfied whistling of an old tune, one that reminded me of my Dad. My disowned and forgotten dad.

I sat up with a start. I learned to whistle from him. He always whistled. So had his dad, my grandfather. I was flooded with memories of the times we were together. How he had taught me to sell shoes, how he had driven me those many times to college. The time he held me as I cried at the death of the dog. The time he had listened as I spoke my fears of being married. These were parts of him I had shoved aside in the turmoil of his leaving.

I decided to seek him out. It meant returning to the Northeast, to Massachusetts. I had to visit with Mom, stay at the home while I searched him out. It was an upsetting experience, a painful one for my Mom. Find him I did with the help of one of my brothers. And I went to see him.

The experience is rich enough for a book of it's own. How do you describe meeting a person who sponsored you into life, who influenced you in many quiet and out of awareness ways, who is a part of the DNA that makes up your very fabric of being, after you have disowned him?

Suffice it to say, it was a powerful experience. I should say experiences, because it had reverberations with my Mom and with the family.

In less than a week a brother called to say he had heard of my visit. He inquired about the experience. I related my satisfaction with reaching a form of closure, of honoring the person who was my father.

In the next year another brother visited him, encouraged by my visit. Then another, until, some 5 years later, all had renewed some form of contact.

In 1988 we all gathered to have a meal with him, to honor him as our father, to let him meet his grandchildren. It was not the kind of event that you see in the Waltons, a favorite TV movie of past years. It was more real. He was under the influence of alcohol, a way of hiding his fear. His head had a nasty bruise from a fall. He was visibly self-conscious, ill-at-ease. He didn't remember all that happened. But, we did. His grandchildren did. They made an important contact.

It was the one brother who maintained contact that made my visit possible. It was that one change in the relationship between Dad and I that influenced others. One movement in relationship that brought the others together.

That is the power of the relationships, that weaving of strings. If you change one relationship. then all connected relationships will change. By acknowledging the nature of each relationship, then working on one at a time, all are influenced, all are affected.

A similar process is evident as I type. I just added one letter to one word on the page, and it caused the word processor to add a line to accommodate the additional space needed. This additional space caused the bottom sentence to move onto the next page. This is repeated on every page, thereafter. This means that I may have to re-read the beginning page, and change some word so as to subtract an additional line to that page. This requires a review of the entire page, moving words and sentences around to get the proper wording and the proper spacing. All this activity results from adding one letter to one word on one page.


* CONSENSUS IS A BEHAVIOR, NOT WORDS

"Don't do as I do,

Do as I say."

Consensus is often expected to be an agreement in words. There is the expectation that the parties will not only agree to, but will automatically carry out the intent of the accord, even at the risk of their lives. This includes taking actions contrary to the needs of their constituencies, community, families. It is an indestructible contract, signed with a "blood oath".

But, consensus is rarely expressed in words. Laws and contracts are written with words to control the beliefs and behaviors of the parties, yet they are hardly followed. The "true" consensus can be determined by observing the parties' actual behaviors. These behaviors express the unwritten agreement in the culture. People are rarely punished if they are within the bounds of the unwritten agreements about behaviors.

Laws and contracts are written to document our "best intentions." They assume that the situation is static and precise. We, however, operate out of the "convenience of the given moment", reflecting the moving target that actually reveals the reality of the present situation. The more diverse the situation, the more diffuse, the greater the opportunity for situational exceptions for the rule.

The speed limit is an example. In Portland, Oregon some 5 years ago, the speed limit on the Interstate Freeway I-84 was 55 miles per hour. I lived in Boring, Oregon, a 45 minute drive from Portland.

As I drove to Portland, I observed that the actual speed was 65 mph, 10 miles over the limit. This behavior was accepted by the State Trooper who parked at the junction of I-84 and I-205. The traffic drove by his location each morning at 65 mph or less, and he condoned it.

One morning I was in a hurry. I drove by his location at a speed he said was 67.5 mph. He stopped me and gave me a ticket for speeding.

Now, the law, in words, said the speed was 55 mph. The sign on the freeway at his location was 55 mph. The Motor Vehicle Driver Training booklet stated that the highest legal freeway speed was 55 mph. The correct answer on the State Drivers Test was 55 mph. These words are backed by the full legal power of the State.

The actual behavior was 65 mph. It was condoned by the State Trooper. This is the accepted consensus in that location for that Law Enforcement Officer. A speed of 67.5 mph mobilized him into action. The ticket cost $85.00.

I have learned that the "true" consensus is actualized through behavior. The behavior is different than the words that people speak. If I ask the conflicting parties to attend a session and they say they would not be seen in the same room together, that is their verbal response. When invited, and they all show up, even if complaining, that is their behavior. I pay attention to the behavior.

A man who insists he is supportive of affirmative action and women's rights, yet tells sexist jokes, whether women are present or not, is expressing his true beliefs through this behavior.

This is powerful information to know, because by observing the behaviors of people in any organization, it is possible to identify the "unwritten rules." These are the "consensus rules" of the organization, and they determine it's true effectiveness.

An organization, group, or individual who behave in a different way than they speak ("they don't walk their talk") are in a state of "disharmony." Harmony in personal terms does not just mean being at "peace." The word refers to a state of being in accord, in unity, with the one's person. If I am angry, I show it. If I am peaceful, I show it. I "walk my talk."

Observing "disharmony", a behavioral consensus that differs from the written organizational consensus, allows the facilitator to focus on revealing the true agreements. The individuals can then determine what their desired consensus is, either by changing their words, or their walk.


* DEVELOPING CONSENSUS WITH WORDS

There are circumstances where people insist on reaching consensus with words. This may be in contract negotiations, or with mission statements. It may just be an expectation that must be met to feel the conflict is resolved.

In these circumstances, there is a process that is appropriate. It is a time consuming one, but will develop the emotional commitment that matches words with deeds. Reaching total accord and harmony with groups takes time, but it saves time in the long run. The reason? Because that which is agreed to, is committed to, is carried out.

It begins with some basic understandings.

FACILITATOR/RECORDER: The manager, or some other person becomes a facilitator. A recorder is selected. The facilitator role is to read the statement, and seek consensus. The recorder writes any comments, or changes, immediately when they are expressed, underlining, or otherwise highlighting the change. The facilitator then seeks consensus again.

The recorder role is important in this process. As soon as the new word or phrase is written, this will galvanize the individuals in the group to respond with agreement, or disagreement. Until the word or phrase is written, the group will be at a state of impasse.

SEEK DISAGREEMENT AND RESOLVE IT: In working with words, read a statement, then see if anyone DISAGREES with it. If no-one disagrees, then go on to the next statement. Majority decisions rely on seeking agreement. Consensus seeks to find the disagreement so that agreement can be fostered.

If there is disagreement with the statement, or the word, then underline it, or put it in (parentheses). Write the recommended word, or wording above it. Then ask if there is disagreement.

If there isn't, move on. If there is, then the words are highlighted, and the new words put in. Continue this until an agreement is reached.

THE IMPASSE: If there is an impasse between two people, ask the group to listen to the different needs or perceptions. The members of the group then give advice on a consensus solution to come up with a statement that meets both of their needs. Or, ask the parties to agree on wording that will meet their needs, based on feedback from the group.


WORDS WORDS WORDS! People have emotional attachment to their words and the grammatical use of them. "Accept my word and you are accepting me", appears to be the basis of much "word-smithing. An attack on my word is felt as an attack on me. Often the issue is one of misunderstanding what is meant by the word, but we never get to that.

Have people define what they mean by the words they have used. Let the group identify words that will create the consensus between the partes. Or, reach agreement on what the word will mean to all the parties.

As an example, if people are arguing over the word "discipline', ask them to define when they don't have it, and when they do have it. This will create the information base needed to resolve the impasse.

MARKING THE TERRITORY: People like to leave their mark on a document, just as animals mark out their territory. This is part of the "word-smithing process". You will find that this activity will occur to great lengths in the beginning of a word-smithing process, and slack off as each person feels satisfied their mark has been made on the document.

Even those who complain about the slowness of the process, the endless "word-smithing", will eventually take their turn at "wasting time." This is normal.

LET'S MOVE ON! People get frustrated and impatient with the slowness of working with words. They will begin to shift, appear to lose interest, complain loudly, get up and walk around. These are all acceptable behaviors. It normally means the issue being discussed is worthy of the discussion.

Acknowledge the impatience, the frustration. Then affirm the need to take the time to see that everyone agrees, the importance of seeking consensus. I remind those who are impatient that impatience often means; "I wish they would hurry up and decide.... my way!"

WE ARE ALL SAYING THE SAME THING: This statement is often made in an attempt to move on, or to avoid a conflict. Be aware... this normally signals that there is an issue of concern to be resolved. I normally point that out and restate the difference that is being represented by the parties. I then encourage them to confront the difference.


BREAKS: These are needed at times. A break helps when the frustration level is getting in the way of moving ahead. Or, if there is an impasse, a break is helpful. Provide a break after reaching a key agreement. Honor the group, or individuals, then take the break.

TIME: This takes time. It is normal to spend up to an hour on the first sentence. As the group progresses, becomes more familiar, is successful in resolving their differences, they become more effective, more productive. Now it may be necessary to slow them down so they don't give short shrift to the rest of the statement.

You will also find that everything is connected to everything else. The parties make agreements early in the process that will apply to issues later in the day. This saves time.


DEVELOPING CONSENSUS STATEMENTS

FROM COLLECTIVE STATEMENTS

On the following pages, the entire process for developing consensus statements is demonstrated. These statements are taken from a previous workshop in which the process was managed to consensus statements.

1. The process begins with the recording of best possible outcomes, first on the 3 x 5 cards, and then on the flip charts.

2. The members of the different buildings are sent to other buildings to listen to, and select, best possible outcomes from these other locations.

3. The second list of best possible outcomes is recorded as a separate list.

4. A collective statement is prepared using both lists. The outcomes from other groups are shown in italics for demonstration purposes only.

5. The group develops consensus with words using the collective statement. The process is highlighted, showing added and deleted words.

6. The final consensus statement is developed.


CREATING A CONSENSUS STATEMENT

(NOTE: This is one statement developed during the session

The original collective statement

The entire community benefits. The community is viewed positively. Community celebrations will include the whole community and there will be a feeling of safety. There will be an energized community willing to resolve issues. There will be improved health and community and a pleased and content society. Young cowboys, Indians, and maybe farmers skinny dipping and fishing in clean streams and having fun. "Peace, Love and Happiness." There will be harmony between self, group, community and nature. People recognize and want to understand relationship between all things and the planet. Harmony returns to family and community. Spirit of cooperation is renewed and grim people will move away.

Creating the consensus statement

The entire community benefits. The community (and) is viewed positively. Community celebrations will include the whole community (everyone) and there will be a feeling of safety (and contentment.) There will be an energized community willing to resolve issues. There will be improved health and community and a pleased and content society. Young cowboys, Indians, and maybe farmers (children from all backgrounds) skinny dipping and fishing in clean streams and having fun. "Peace, Love and Happiness." There will be harmony between self, group, community and nature. People recognize and want to understand relationship between all things and the planet. Harmony returns to family and community. Spirit of cooperation is renewed and grim people will move away.

The consensus statement

The entire community benefits and is viewed positively. Community celebrations will include everyone and there will be a feeling of safety and contentment. There will be an energized community willing to resolve issues.

Young children from all backgrounds skinny dipping and fishing in clean streams and having fun. "Peace, Love and Happiness." There will be harmony between self, group, community and nature. People recognize and want to understand relationship between all things and the planet. Harmony returns to family and community. A spirit of cooperation is renewed.


THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF THE NEW GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

VISTA VIEW SCHOOL - RECORDED STATEMENTS

(Note: these are the original statements as they were recorded on the easel.)

o More voices will be heard.

o Everyone involved will feel they have a valued role in the process.

o People will feel more involvement and therefore buy into the decision making process.

o Ultimately all students will achieve more.

o Limits of resources will be considered.

o More people will know what's going on.

o Better decisions will be made.

o Teachers will be positively motivated to serve students better.

o Our constituents will be very supportive of decisions made.

o The community will pull together to ensure that all students are learning to their potential.

o We will have a true sense of community.

o Schools will be fun not boring.

o We will use money in a better way.

o All people will know and understand the purpose, principals and directions that schools and education are going.

o We will operate out of consensus.

o Students would be excited to go to school every day.

o Decrease in student suspension/ expulsion.

o We'll have a healthy community.

o We'll increase motivation.

THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF THE NEW GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

VISTA VIEW SCHOOL - RECORDED STATEMENTS

(Note: these are statements taken from the other building recorded statements, that apply to this building.)

o Freedom to decide the most effective instruction practices.


C Our constituents will be very supportive of decisions made.


C Better more responsive decision school won't be boring.


C Students self-esteem will be increased or improve.


C Educators will be respected for what they do.


C We actually get strong and brave enough to do something important and meaningful.


C There will be a strong sense of community.


C Students would extend learning beyond the time/ space of school day/ building.


C Improved school climate and student achievement.


C Kids will be provided an opportunity for quality education.


C Improve cost efficiency and quality control of schools.



THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF THE NEW GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

VISTA VIEW SCHOOL - A COLLECTIVE STATEMENT

(Added words are shown on (parentheses). Statements from other buildings are shown in italics.)

There will be a true and strong sense of community. More voices will be heard. Everyone involved will feel they have a valued role in the process. We'll have a healthy community.

We will operate out of consensus. All people will know and understand the purpose, principals and directions that schools and education are going. Our constituents will be very supportive of the decisions made. All people will commit because they will believe they have a meaningful part to contribute.

People will feel more involvement and therefore buy into the decision making process. More people will know what's going on (and) our constituents will be very supportive of (the) decisions made.

(There are) better and more responsive decisions (made). We improve the cost efficiency and quality control of schools. Limits of resources will be considered. We will use money in a better way.

The community will pull together to ensure that all students are learning to their potential. Each school will develop goals and objectives to address the best student outcomes.

Students would be excited to go to school every day. We'll increase motivation. Students self-esteem will be increased or improve. There is a decrease in student suspension/expulsion. Students would extend learning beyond the time/ space of school day/ building.

Schools will be fun and not boring (because )teachers will be positively motivated to serve students better. (We have the ) freedom to decide the most effective instruction practices.

(There is an) improved school climate and student achievement.

Kids will be provided an opportunity for quality education.

Ultimately all students will achieve more.

Educators will be respected for what they do. We actually get strong and brave enough to do something important and meaningful.



THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF THE NEW GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

VISTA VIEW SCHOOL - DEVELOPING CONSENSUS

(Note: Words that are changed or deleted are shown with a line through them. Added words are redlined.)

There will be a true and strong sense of community. More voices will be heard. Everyone involved will feel they have a valued role in the process. We'll have a healthy community.

We will operate out of consensus. All people will know and understand the purpose, principles and directions that schools and education are going. Our constituents will be very supportive of the decisions made.

All people will commit because they will believe they have a meaningful part to contribute. People will feel more involvement and therefore buy into the decision making process. More people will know what's going on (and) our constituents will be very supportive of (the) decisions made.

(There are) better and more responsive decisions (made). More effective decisions will be made. We improve the cost efficiency and quality control of schools. Limits of resources will be considered. We will use money more wisely. in a better way.

The community will pull together to ensure that all students are learning to their potential. Each school will develop goals, and objectives and strategies to address the best student outcomes.

Students would be excited to go to school every day. We'll increase motivation. Students self-esteem will be increased or improve. There is a decrease in student suspension/expulsion. Students would extend learning beyond the time/ space of school day/ building.

Schools will be fun and not boring exciting (because )teachers will be positively motivated to serve students better. (We have the ) freedom to decide the most effective instruction practices.

(There is an) improved school climate and student achievement.

Kids will be provided an opportunity for quality education.

Ultimately all students will achieve more.

Educators will be respected for what they do. We actually get strong and brave enough to do something important and meaningful.



THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF THE NEW GOVERNANCE SYSTEM

VISTA VIEW SCHOOL - A CONSENSUS STATEMENT

(Note: This is the final consensus statement, with deleted statements removed, and new words or statements added.)

There will be a true and strong sense of community. More voices will be heard. Everyone involved will feel they have a valued role in the process. We'll have a healthy community.

We will operate out of consensus. All people will know and understand the purpose, principles and directions that schools and education are going. Our constituents will be very supportive of the decisions made.

All people will commit because they will believe they have a meaningful part to contribute and therefore buy into the decision making process. More people will know what's going on and our constituents will be very supportive of the decisions made.

More effective decisions will be made. We improve the cost efficiency and quality control of schools. Limits of resources will be considered. We will use money more wisely.

The community will pull together to ensure that all students are learning to their potential. Each school will develop goals, objectives and strategies to address the best student outcomes.

Students would be excited to go to school every day. We'll increase motivation. Students self-esteem will be increased or improve. There is a decrease in student suspension/expulsion. Students would extend learning beyond the time/ space of school day/ building.

Schools will be exciting because teachers will be positively motivated to serve students better. We have the freedom to decide the most effective instruction practices.

There is an improved school climate and student achievement. Kids will be provided an opportunity for quality education. Ultimately all students will achieve more.

Educators will be respected for what they do. We actually get strong and brave enough to do something important and meaningful.



* A PROCESS FOR COPING WITH CONFLICT

The facilitator may use this process in diverse ways to fit the situation. Application will depend on the group. three alternatives are displayed.


THE QUESTIONS: A GENERAL PROCESS

* WHAT IS THE SITUATION? HOW DO I FEEL ABOUT IT?


* WHAT ARE MY WORST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF THE SITUATION?


* WHAT ARE MY BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF THE SITUATION?


* WHAT BELIEFS/BEHAVIORS/STRATEGIES/ACTIONS WILL FOSTER THE BEST OUTCOMES?


THE QUESTIONS: EXPLORING THE CONCEPT

* DEFINE THE SITUATION (CONFLICT, EVIDENCE OF CONFLICT). HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT?


* WHAT ARE THE WORST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF CONFRONTING THE SITUATION (CONFLICT)?


* WHAT ARE THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF CONFRONTING AND RESOLVING THE SITUATION (CONFLICT)?

* WHAT BELIEFS/BEHAVIORS/STRATEGIES/ACTIONS WILL FOSTER THE BEST OUTCOMES?


THE QUESTIONS: EXPLORING THE REALITY

* WHAT IS THE EVIDENCE OF UNRESOLVED CONFLICT (MISTRUST, LACK OF LEADERSHIP, ETC.) IN YOUR ENVIRONMENT?

* WHAT ARE THE WORST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF CONFRONTING/NOT CONFRONTING UNRESOLVED CONFLICT?

* WHAT ARE THE BEST POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF CONFRONTING AND RESOLVING CONFLICT?

* WHAT BELIEFS/BEHAVIORS/STRATEGIES/ACTIONS WILL FOSTER THE BEST OUTCOMES?


Part 1
Part 3