In any relationship, workplace or community, it is important to understand how conflict develops and what makes it escalate and which steps you can take to decrease conflict.

Many times it just start with a misunderstanding or something two or more people actually disagree on. If we face it and just talk about it and agree to disagree a conflict will never develop. 

The steps to develop a conflict are simple.

Blame someone or feel blamed by someone. Involve more people by talking to them about how bad the other person is. Stop talking to the person you have an issue with. Think about the other person as a bad person. Sooner or later this leads to open hostility, which only can be resolved with you or the other. 

Feeling unfairly blamed obviously can be a result of someone blaming you. It can also arise from a misinterpretation or from poor communication skills. However more often and not so transparent, it is a result of guilty conscience, because I’ve done something towards you that I don’t think is OK.

When I have done something wrong towards you, I naturally feel uncomfortable around you. There is basically 2 ways I can handle this:

1) I can go to you and say ’I’m sorry, how can I repair the damage?’ Most likely it ends right there with us finding some kind of solution.

2) Or I can relieve my guilty conscience and bad feelings around you by searching for something you are doing wrong. There is always something I can criticise you for if I look for it. We are not perfect. We are humans and we make mistakes. Then I can start blaming you. Once I share with others what kind of person you are, I do even more wrong towards you and I have to make you even more wrong to relieve my guilty conscience. And off we go on a merry-go-round. It creates a toxic environment faster than fast.

Living in a community requires, that I don’t take other people’s shortcomings, poor communication, opinions or mistakes personally. It’s about them. Not about me. It requires me to take responsibility for my own hurt feelings. It is not the other person that hurts me. It is my own perception of the situation that hurts me. My pain may be increased by past trauma’s that I haven’t dealt with to a sufficient degree. Living in a community also requires that I’m willing to be vulnerable, admit my mistakes and make up for them.

In our community we have the policy to talk with the other person, if something feels wrong rather than talking with other people about it. If that is not possible, we request that they talk with one of the people in the vision keeper circle, so they can get help to handle it, before a mosquito becomes an elefant in the room that affects the whole community.

Does it always work that way? Of course not. We are humans.