Simon Mediation - Dan Simon, M.A., J.D.


Dan Simon, M.A., J.D.

The Transformative View of Conflict

In the below video, here’s what I say about the transformative view of conflict:

You’ve got two parties, individuals, countries, or corporations, but two people or groups who are feeling threatened by each other and they are behaving therefore in ways that are designed to defend themselves from each other but often are perceived by the other side as threatening. So there’s the vicious cycle of both sides feeling threatened by each other and therefore, doing things that threaten the other side and it’s a vicious cycle. It’s also known as the escalation of conflict. You can apply it to difficult international situations. You can apply it to people who have really expensive litigation with each other. You can apply it to husbands and wives who are deciding to get divorced. That escalation in the conflict (or degeneration of the interaction is another way to describe it), that’s what we’re trying to focus on in the transformative model.

We assume that people, even in that state where they’re feeling weak and less able to have compassion for each other, by the virtue of the fact that they’re human beings, we’re assuming that they have both the desire and the ability to regain a sense of both strength and autonomy and good self care. Also when they’re feeling like they’re taking better care of themselves and are feeling calmer and more secure, they’re also able to get back in touch with their natural human tendency toward compassion and understanding for the other person.

The hope is that if we can help them shift the interaction in that direction of greater strength and compassion, the problem-solving becomes much easier and they’re generally, we assume, able to largely do that on their own without us directing the conversation very much. What we do as transformative mediators is support the conversation, because we basically believe that people, even in the midst of difficult conflict – the reason it’s so difficult for them is because it’s very distressing for us humans to be in a state where we are feeling weakened and also disconnected from this other person. We prefer, we humans, to feel both that we are taking good care of our self and good care of the other person or at least interacting with them in a positive way. We’re sitting there hating that. The mediator acts as a supporter of those inclinations that people naturally have, we assume. To do things differently, to do things that will help them in both of those aspects, both their self care and their care of each other.