Parties in conflict often ask the questions Alice did when she arrived in Wonderland.
The Cheshire Cat, that fictional animal who disappears, leaving behind only a grin was right, if a party in a conflict doesn’t know where they are going, then it doesn’t matter which way they go.
However, many parties in conflict are savvy enough to know (whether they are conscious of it or not ) that what got them into conflict isn’t going to get them out.
The problem is, many parties have a preference for when they would like the conflict to end (at a place of compromise, accommodation or winning) but they have no idea what the process to attain that outcome looks like.
Too many parties are also like Alice, in that they harbor suspicions of various peace building processes— negotiation, mediation, training, coaching, or litigation—not because they don’t understand the processes, but because they don’t understand themselves.
The prickly questions of:
- How did we get here?
- Was I in the wrong and not the other party?
- Do I have a responsibility to make it better?
- What if it gets worse?
And on and on, doggedly insist upon themselves in party’s whisper spaces, before a decision, during the process of getting to resolution (or not) and after the decision is made. On the other side of the whisper space and resolution is the tug at our heart strings of the regret that we cannot go back to the ways things were before.
Or party’s try to go back and only reignite the old conflict.
What got you here (to conflict) won’t get you there (to resolution) especially if each party has no idea what “there” should look like when they arrive.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org