We have different parts to ourselves: body, mind, emotion, spirit, and heart. Conflict impacts some or all of these five parts of us. In the previous blog I wrote that we must communicate from the part that has been impacted in order to address the effects of conflict on that level. And, when trust is not sufficient, there is a tendency to withhold information from the deeper faculties of spirit and heart.
In this blog I will specify the type of resolution available at the level of each of the five parts of us as proposed by Ken Cloke in his book, At the Crossroads of Conflict. In this system, deeper levels of conversation produce more profound outcomes.
The physical separation of the parties’ bodies or blocking of communication between them, temporarily stops a fight. It may benefit a situation by allowing the parties to reconsider their approach or it can give space for emotional processing. Unfortunately, the result is not always positive; stewing about the problem may increase antagonism. At the physical level, one can stop a fight, but not end it.
Competitive negotiation and compromise at a mental level can settle differences and generate agreement terms. Although reaching an agreement may be better than no agreement, at this level of resolution, parties often remain dissatisfied with the outcome. Outcomes generated through predominately mental engagement characterize much negotiation and mediation that occurs in a legal context.
Exploration of interests and experience engages the emotional level and can resolve the bulk of the discomfort created by the dispute as well as all the practical matters such as required agreement terms. Parties are frequently satisfied with outcomes generated at this level but they may still carry animosity towards the other party and may suffer from other detrimental impacts of their experience. Most mediators try to address differences at this level of interaction.
Forgiveness of the other party and oneself engages the spiritual level and results in transformation of the conflict. Parties take responsibility for their role in creating the conflict. The parties, however, remain partially closed to each other and protective of themselves. In the previous blog I supply a couple of questions that can encourage communication at this level of spirit and intention.
Full engagement of the heart level (the window to the soul) is required for transcendence of the conflict. Memories remain but what happened and the actions of all are fully accepted, with equanimity and without judgement. At this level, parties let go of remaining pain. Their relationship, if the parties choose to have one, is fully reconciled and goes forward into new territory. Any future conflict engagement is not burdened by past experience.
How to make use of this information? If you have been in a conflict that is supposedly addressed or resolved and yet you feel discomfort, one of the levels – the five parts of us – may not have been incorporated into the resolution process. Consider how each part of you was impacted, particularly at the deeper levels, and consider whether you have work to do on yourself at that level, or whether you need to communicate with the other party on that level. With this awareness, you can decide what actions to take.