Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Where to start?

The other day I was working with a group that is dealing with a major conflict within its organization.  Now because we have the capacity to remember, there is no such thing as starting over. The memory of what has taken place will always be an issue for someone. As we discussed the issue of peaceful environments, it was made known that at some point there has to be a starting point for improving the current situation.
In many cases it is impossible to talk with everyone. However there have been attempts to do just that, which have been known as Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. The same ideology applies for work place/organizational environments. Each person must be able to have an outlet to give voice to their realities. Even before such a task begins thought there is a very important step which is often overlooked.
The first step is to express the strong need for everyone to envision a peaceful future.  Also it must be made very clear there is no time frame for building a peaceful society because it never stops. What is also true is that people can not live with such a vague concept, there has to be limits, checkpoints, evaluation points and/or identifiable progress. Within the current situation, I have a few weeks to produce evidence. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to get one person to envision a peaceful future.
For the most part people have an idea of what the future should be. As you begin to discuss this utopia there will be very common elements in the narrative as people explain their utopia. These common threads are the building blocks for the greater society. Not everyone will agree with every point but they will get to a point where the situation is pleasing to them, if not ideal. As the commonality is shared the next phase of resolving the conflict can begin.
The people will have a foundation to build upon which they all agree to. With that foundation you can begin to discuss various issues which cause friction. As tensions begin to rise you will have that foundational point to draw upon. In reality this phase never ends however, we live in a world of instant everything so time is pressure point, even though a false one.  
Within the international society time is always made an issue due to the desire to limit the damage. What is missed in this time pressure is the lack of trust needed to build a lasting peace. Most conflicts do not spring up within a few weeks or days. The hatred is often built up over years. Such a conflict can take months or in most cases years to play out.
Often an organization has only existed for a short period of time. In these cases there is the reality of outside influences, people bringing their personal lives into the group. In other cases there will be an emergent society or social clique within the work setting. The office gossip can and has ruined many companies. Drama is powerful, be careful.
The case I am dealing with at this moment does have two sides moving against each other. Very much like Syria but with no death toll, just emotional and character attachments. In both events pieces have to be moved around, ideology needs to be grounded and a way out has to be found.
The best resolution is often the one that comes from those that are in the battle. These are the ones that need to work things out. A prescribed/ordered resolution is like treating the symptoms of an illness while the illness is still going strong, in other words, lipstick on a pig. In the current case I am working there is no time frame but there is an expectation of quick resolution. The conflict may very well be solved within the time frame. What I like to remind people is that some of us are carrying hatred that began two thousand years ago and that hatred can very much be a part of a current conflict.

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