Ever notice we seem to live in an ‘either or’ society?
Been in any ‘good’ arguments recently? You know the ones. Some are mild – milk or dark chocolate? But then there are the topics that can change the lives of populations such as politics, government, military, ethnic differences, and religion.
We champion ‘our side’ and find fault with ‘the other side’. We do this despite the fact that most of us know that the best solution lies somewhere between the extremes. Even in the face of new information, we often continue to defend our side.
Perhaps, just perhaps, we are part of the problem.
There’s an interesting book about transforming conflict by William L. Ury entitled The third side: Why we fight and how we can stop.
Ury presents a ‘both and’ perspective. He suggests that people who step into a conflict with this view are called thirdsiders.
- Are willing to see all sides
- Encourage cooperative negotiation
- Support the development of fair solutions that meet the needs of those in conflict and the community as a whole
Ury suggests some ways we can be thirdsiders (http://www.thirdside.org/roles.cfm).
We can prevent conflict by:
- Enabling people to meet their basic needs
- Helping people learn alternatives to conflict
- Connecting people relationally (it is harder for conflict to grow between people who know each other personally)
We can resolve conflict by:
- Helping participants to get to the core of the dispute to resolve it
- Settling disputes when basic rights are being violated
- Using our influence to help equalize the differences in power
- Helping to repair the wounds and damaged relationships generated by conflict
We can contain conflict by:
- Calling attention to the problem and any escalation
- Setting limits to fighting or changing the way people fight
- Providing protection through intervention
The third side = both and
A way of thinking and acting that is worth considering.