My goal is to assist you in reducing the negative impact of conflict and reaping its benefits. I help organizations resolve conflict and reach a higher level of collaboration and effectiveness.
I do this by providing
conflict and communication training
facilitation services (including planning, evaluation, and team building)
Role of Conflict in partnerships and organizations
Conflict is a part of everyday life in a healthy partnership or organization. It is only when conflict cannot be constructively expressed that it becomes a hazard.
Partnerships by definition are cross-cultural. Sensitive facilitation will allow you to explore with curiosity your differences that otherwise could be a source of unproductive conflict. When the partnership hits a rocky patch, I lead you in saying what needs to be said and assist you to reorient yourselves toward your shared goals and forward momentum.
If you are a non-profit or government trying to serve people and the world, you have an extra need to deal well with conflict: you want to live in accordance with your values. Organizations will be most powerful in their leadership toward a fairer, more inclusive, respectful, peaceful world to the extent they create such a state within their own partnerships and organizations.
Creative response to conflict
It is tempting to respond to conflict with avoidance and denial. Most of us are conflict avoiders. When a conflict is too big to be ignored organizations will start leaving the partnership or the collaborative effort may disband. Organizations may fire, move or reorganize staff to diffuse conflict. Such approaches don’t reap the benefit of conflict.
There is another approach: that of dealing with the conflict creatively—seeing it as a potential source of positive change for a region, partnership, organization and the people involved. Conflict is an opportunity to have a new conversation that will yield important information for strengthening your work together.
Description of a conflict mediation process
Each conflict resolution process I lead is designed to meet the unique needs of the group. To create that process, there are three stages:
Stage One: Assessment
I interview those who are involved in or affected by the conflict.
I explore what is happening from each perspective, what the impact has been and what is needed to improve the situation. As a neutral third party, people will tell me confidentially things they don’t feel able to share within the partnership or organization.
This conversation helps participants clarify their understanding and develop a creative response to the situation. It allows me to determine what kind of process I will lead with you.
Stage Two: Analysis and Recommendations
I prepare a report usually deliverable to all I have interviewed with my analysis of the situation and a recommended conflict resolution intervention.
The report may be one paragraph or many pages in length depending on the nature of the issues and your needs.
Stage Three: Conflict Resolution Process
I facilitate a process to explore the conflict and identify positive steps forward.
This often involves grounding yourself in your shared mission, your strengths and all that is going well in your work together and your vision for how you want things to be. Then I guide you in looking at the points where things are not aligned with your vision and how you might get there, together.
Following, the meeting, I prepare a written report of the outcome and next steps.
The actual process used depends on what I assess that you need. Interventions for past clients include:
a dialogue visioning process
a group problem-solving exercise
a strategic planning process
a team-building process
Principles guiding my work
My role is as an external process specialist who works with you to create desired change. I use a systems approach that engages all who are affected by a situation to be involved in improving it.
I share my knowledge of partnerships and best practices but I do not impose solutions. Sustainable change only comes when a partnerships and organization develop next steps themselves. It is my job to help you to do that efficiently and effectively.
I understand the importance of privacy. I do not disclose the details of my work outside a partnership or an organization unless I receive your permission.
Within an organization, I keep confidential content of one-on-one conversations unless I have authorization to share the information more broadly.
I recommend processes that will involve the least use of consultant and partnership/organization time that is needed to achieve the desired results.
Nonprofits and conflict
Nonprofit partnerships and organizations may face specific challenges dealing with conflict:
fear that there is inadequate time, money or energy to address the conflict given the pressing nature of your work
concern that you may lose its external credibility and support if a divisive issue is publicly acknowledged
inability to track the full costs of unresolved conflict
Despite these challenges, nonprofit partnerships and organizations do have some particular advantages when dealing with conflict:
strongly articulated values base
stakeholders with a strong heart-felt concern and commitment to mission of the partnership or organization
willingness to “do what it takes” to make positive things happen
See my paper “Building Peace within Nonprofit Organizations” in the Resources section for more on the common sources of tension and conflict in nonprofit organizations.
Feedback from members of the coalition of 30 organizations involved in the challenging process of increasing the regional integration of services:
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your unsurpassed care and commitment to this work”
“I appreciate your amazing gift of hearing what is said, and not said and how you make this process flow and stay positive.”
“Christine was skilled at enabling us to speak freely, reducing defensiveness, and keeping things moving in a positive direction”