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The daunting nature of the challenges that the Constructive Conflict Initiative seeks to address can easily seem impossibly overwhelming and hopeless. It is all too tempting to conclude that we face an insoluble problem and that we might as well revert to "fight it out" mode and hope for the best. As you might suspect, we think that would be a terrible mistake and that there is a realistic strategy for addressing a problem of this scale.
Our approach replaces the quest for a single solution with a "massively parallel" approach that seeks to simultaneously apply the many great ideas that are currently available (or could reasonably be developed) for dealing with the many different aspects of intractable conflicts. The ideas are summarized in the continually evolving "Action List" of steps that could be taken in many different social settings to address key aspects of the problem. While some of the actions on the list will obviously require major efforts involving many people and organizations, other actions refer to the sort of changes that we could all make in our daily lives.
A sampling of such suggestions is illustrated in the following infographics. Feel free to use these however they are useful, as long as the use is not commercial). According to the Creative Commons License CC BY-NC-ND 4.0, also please don't alter them or remove the attribution information.
It is impossible to effectively address a conflict
if you don't understand what is going on.
It's never a simple us-vs.-them story!
See the conflict's complexity:
Parties, their attributes, relationships, issues, dynamics, and power are among the many conflict elements one must clearly understand.
who and what
whom and what.
Maps also show where interventions
can have the most benefit.
The quest for total victory is
a recipe for continuing and
Coexistence offers a path
to a peaceful future.
Hate begets hate, fear, anger, and eventually violence.
Don't fall into the trap!
And if you are in it, climb out!
Conflict isn't just a spectator sport…
where all you do is cheer for the home team and celebrate the "big hits."
Get in the game and do what you can to make it constructive!
Don't assume a person you don't know
is just like you expect them to be!
Give them a chance to surprise you!
makes them angry
and intensifies opposition.
It's better to be easy on people
tough on the problem!
Respect is free to give,
yet its payback is huge!
It breaks down negative stereotypes,
and replaces them with
Don't sell your soul to
authoritarian / plutocratic
They don't care about you!
Apart from a few token gestures,
they won't really defend your interests!
Don't take the "hate bait" and
let provocateurs use inflammatory propaganda
to drive us apart!
If we look, we will find we have a lot of commonalities and actually can work together!
Remember it's more than just
"Us vs. Them."
We have common interests
that we need to recognize
and work together to protect.
Defend your interests on the basis of common values
that are in everyone's interest
And, honor the requests of others when they are consistent with those values.
Challenge the behavior of individuals
who act in ways that you oppose.
But don't act as if all members of their group are responsible for their behavior.
Even if you think you know
what the other side thinks,
you likely don't.
And they don't know your thinking either.
It's time for dialogue--not competing insults!
At the very least, practice
Empathize with your adversary enough to understand how you are making them mad, and then
Don't Do It
unless you absolutely must!
No one expects their "enemy" to
empathically listen to their concerns.
If you surprise them by doing so,
it can profoundly improve relationships!
Incivility begets more incivility!
Civil discourse, however,
can help de-escalate conflicts,
and solve problems.
Mutually Beneficial Compromise
Limiting Your Use of Force
is more likely to produce sustainable progress.
Snappy, gratuitous insults
as much as
Don't just complain when your adversaries
act in ways you oppose.
Look for and compliment them
when they act in ways you can support!
Give people face-saving
ways of walking back statements made
and actions taken
in the heat of
Help start to reverse the escalation spiral
by walking back and apologizing for
overly inflammatory things you said or did
in the heat of an escalated conflict.
Resist the allure of total victory and the ability to defeat and dominate your enemies
That is a formula for endless, all out confrontation.
Open yourself up
to the possibility that
you may (at least in part)
You are likely to
If you can let the other side
win something too,
the chances of mutually beneficial
go way up.
Unmet human needs are a big driver of destructive conflict.
Helping assure that everyone's needs are met
can sharply limit destructive conflict
Avoid championing solutions
that don't equitably share
the pain and sacrifice
required to be effective.
is not the same as advancing your group's political agenda.
must come first.