It’s much easier to resolve a conflict or solve a relationship problem when we start from the cosmic viewpoint that all humans are equal and think about how that should affect what we say and do. When a relationship is grounded in equality, the people involved will centre on the problem, or conflict, at hand, including the emotional effects and any material loss or damage that needs to be put right. In a relationship of equals, there is no competition; no desire to dominate or thought of retribution. However, as soon as one views the other as ‘the enemy’ and begins focusing on winning or seeking revenge, the chances of peacefully resolving the problem takes a nose dive.
Conflicts are more likely to be resolved peacefully when those involved share the same worldview and have common goals. Religious people should have the advantage in this, since they aspire to share the same worldview, but even religions are notoriously competitive on all levels of interaction. This applies from the level of ‘which is the one true religion’ upwards. And resentment over past injustices has lingered between religions for centuries. Even though organised religion has failed to lead the way in conflict resolution, it is possible for anyone to start the ball rolling in their own life.
Even if the other person in a dispute is intent on winning and therefore not interested in equality, any person who is grounded in equality, and centred on the principles of nonviolence, is in a strong position to gain a fair outcome, and turn an ‘enemy’ into a friend. Therefore, when faced with a conflict, the first thing to do is remember that equality is the true ground for human relationships, and then centre on obtaining an outcome consistent with that base.
Once you are grounded and centred, there are four guidelines to peaceful conflict resolution. It’s ironic that if these guidelines were used to guide communication between people in everyday life, there would be few negative conflicts to resolve. The guidelines for conflict resolution (or for avoiding negative conflicts) are:
· Respect the other person.
· Listen until the other person’s views are understood.
· Be open and honest in sharing your own views.
· Make agreements for the common good. (Seek win/win solutions)
Bob Myers, author of Travelling the Road of Peace and Happiness.