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Old 04-06-16   #1
Windsmith bat Gaia
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Lightbulb Conflict Resolution in Pagan Communities

I wanted a place where we could trade tips and resources for resolving conflict in Pagan groups. Whether that's our covens or the planning committees of our local Pagan Pride festivals, other customers at the metaphysical stores we hang out at or the folks in our Pagan artists' groups, we tend to be a lot of fairly strong-willed, strong-personalitied folks who don't always see eye to eye. Person-to-person conflicts can blow up to impact an entire community, and communitywide conflicts can cause schisms. And only an alarmingly small fraction of us are trained in any sort of mediation or conflict resolution.

So let's share what we know, what we've learned, what we've observed, what we intuit, what we suspect to be true. What's worked for folks in trying to resolve a conflict (either as one of the conflicted parties or as an outside mediator). What tools and resources do we already have in our toolboxes that we can share with each other? Let's help keep our communities healthy!

My hope is that this can remain a relatively positive, resolution-focused thread. If need be, please feel free to briefly summarize a specific incident or broad conflict that you dealt/are dealing with; however, I invite you to avoid turning this into a "therapy thread" or just a place to vent about how unreasonable people are. It's true! People can be unreasonable, ourselves included. What this thread aims to address is: how do we work through those conflicts anyway?
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Old 04-06-16   #2
Windsmith bat Gaia
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Default Re: Conflict Resolution in Pagan Communities

Daniel Shapiro and Roger Fisher wrote a book called Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate. The book has a lot of really useful information, and one of the things I find the chewiest (that is, that gives me the most to think about) is the concept of the five core concerns, things Shapiro and Fisher claim are core to everyone (mostly in a Western cultural context). They are:
  • Appreciation: Are our thoughts, feelings, and actions devalued, or are they acknowledged as having merit?
  • Autonomy: Is our freedom to make decisions impinged upon, or is it respected?

  • Affiliation: Are we treated as an adversary and kept at a distance, or are we treated as a colleague?

  • Status: Is our standing treated as inferior to others, or is it given full recognition where deserved?

  • Role: Are the many roles we play meaningless, or are they personally fulfilling?
Shapiro and Fisher claim that at the heart of most conflicts lies an imbalance or misalignment in these core concerns, and that in order to resolve any conflict, those imbalances must be addressed and resolved.
For example, say two roommates argue frequently over who's supposed to be doing the dishes. The dishes may not be the real problem but merely the outward manifestation of the inner conflict. Maybe the one who seldom or never does the dishes feels that their autonomy is being impinged by the other one telling them they have to do the dishes on a particular schedule. And maybe the one who does the bulk of the dishes feels that their role in the household is being reduced to "maid" or that their status is being held as inferior to their roommate's. Until those core concerns are addressed, the roommates will continue fighting over the dishes (and probably the vacuuming and the toilet-cleaning and the yard work, as well...).
I go back and forth on these. Sometimes I think they're great. Sometimes they feel overly simplistic to me, overly focused on a white, western model, and not reflecting the full range of human "core concerns."
But no matter what, I find them to be a very useful reminder of something I learned in a talk on nonviolent communication teachings many years ago: everyone who becomes active in a "cause" does so for different reasons. By addressing and dealing with those underlying reasons, rather than looking only at the surface issue, we increase our chances of coming to a collaborative solution that benefits all parties.

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Old 04-06-16   #3
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Default Re: Conflict Resolution in Pagan Communities

This is a great idea, for a thread. I may not be the person to talk about it as I seem to generate conflict (mostly unwittingly) and I have grown into a Just Say No to Bullshit stance in my life, which translates as "if someone is being an asshat, walk away".
That's easy to do in online groups and forums, and as a solitary, obviously in covens, or other groups it's a real challenge. I'll be interested in seeing how this thread develops, as I probably will not be solitary for the rest of my life...and these ideas are useful in any kind of situation, not just spiritual groups.
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