Conflict is a natural part of life. Like most natural forces it can be negative or positive. It can lead to better ideas and decisions, growth, and positive change. However, minimizing the destructive aspects of conflict and maximizing the productive ones takes knowledge and skills.
Here are a few of our favorites resources to build your knowledge and skills:
Political division has always existed but today we are seeing ever increasing levels of polarization between liberals and conservatives and urban and rural parts of the county. For example, the Pew Research Center finds increasingly stark disagreement between Democrats and Republicans on the economy, racial justice, climate change, law enforcement, international engagement and a long list of other issues as well as heightened feelings of animosity between the political parties. Research shows that this polarization is also affecting families, workplaces, schools, neighborhoods, and religious organizations, stressing the fabric of our society.
Why is this happening, and what can be done about it? Here are some great resources:
Learn about why we are so divided:
Learn what to do about our division:
By becoming a mediator you can both improve your conflict resolution skills and help others work through their differences and find a path forward. Training to become a mediator is available from a variety of organizations.
The aim of restorative practices is to manage conflict and tensions by repairing harm and restoring relationships. Learning restorative practices will help you to work effectively with divisive situations and will give you the tools to help your family, friends and community do the same.
Minnesota's Community Dispute Resolution Programs offer opportunities to volunteer and serve your community by mediating disputes, facilitating restorative processes, facilitate community conversations and more. To find your local program, visit https://communitymediationmn.org.
Braver Angels is a national organization with a Minnesota Chapter. One of the co-founders is Bill Doherty, professor at the University of Minnesota. Braver Angels has numerous programs and trainings that bring together Red and Blue Americans in a working alliance to depolarize America. They welcome people with strong convictions and principles. They believe the best way to achieve a more perfect Union is by being forthright and transparent about our political learnings. In that spirit, they say to our fellow Americans, "Come with your convictions, your willingness to listen, and your readiness to talk with others who disagree with you."
The backbone of a Living Room Conversation is a conversational model developed by dialogue experts in order to facilitate connection between people despite their differences, and even identify areas of common ground and shared understanding. Within this model, they have developed over 100 free conversation guides on all sorts of topics that can otherwise be tense to talk about with friends, strangers, and even loved ones of differing backgrounds and political persuasions. You can join an existing conversation or host one of your own.
Learn what to do when emotions run high and positions are deeply held. Compromise isn't the only option. In this OCDR workshop, participants learn how to de-escalate difficult situations and move from conflict to effective solutions on challenging public issues. Components of this training include: Problem Solving Mindset; Understanding Conflict; Problem Solving Skills (perspective taking, listening, reframing, synthesizing, de-escalation, and managing strong emotions; and the 5 Step Collaborative Problem Solving Process. The training is available online in two, one-hour modules. For a customized training, visit the OCDR Training page.
ETD provides trainings for state employees on difficult conversations, conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, and other related topics.
At the Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution we are one of the several organizations in state government that can be a resources to public sector agencies. Visit the websites listed below to learn more.