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Cloud of conflict – a tool for networking and transformation

Almost any state of tension can be expressed in the framework of the conflict model. The conflict model has at least three main advantages:First, we see the immediate problem with extreme clarity, and we understand “why” we are in the conflict.
Second, we significantly reduce the ever-growing irritation about conflict, and as much as possible keep negative emotions under control.
The third and most important advantage is that a correctly constructed conflict model automatically gives us the key to resolving it, and I will explain why this is so.

Using the constraint Theory Thought process tool called the conflict cloud (also known as the conflict resolution cloud or thundercloud), we can break down a conflict situation into three main components:

1. “desires” — what we claim;
2. “needs” — what we want to achieve or what we want to keep with our desires;
3. the “common goal” is something that can only be achieved if the needs of the parties are met.

With this view, the goal becomes really “common” for both sides of the conflict.

Challenging your own mental models and seeing someone else’s

The fourth basic component that paves the way to resolving the conflict is the initial premise. What unites all the elements and gives conceptual integrity to the conflict is a set of mental models, those beliefs that we call “assumptions”; they reflect the logic that makes us see the conflict as unsolvable.

When these mental models come to the surface, it becomes possible to challenge them and replace them with less “restraining”ones. In other words, we reveal the beliefs that are holding us back, so that we can test the truth of those beliefs and find a way to reject them.

We achieve this by creating “injections”, i.e. solutions that refute the underlying assumptions that caused the conflict, without affecting the needs of the parties. I think we should emphasize the inherent complexity of this exercise. By putting into words the principles that underlie our thinking, by revealing how we see the world and how we interpret reality, we simultaneously expose the inner side of our personality and accept the need to challenge our deepest beliefs. Moreover, by agreeing to abandon our mental models, we indirectly agree to change our view of the world, and in some cases, to change ourselves. Changing the picture of the world that has been formed for a long time is a very difficult task that requires serious effort and a sincere desire to improve the most important part of our existence – the way of thinking.

On the other side of the clouds of the conflict: the linkages and transformation

The reason is that, as I keep saying, a seemingly simple conflict diagram is not quite a “tool” in the literal sense, like a hammer or a program. Applying the cloud of conflict model to solve a problem forces us to adopt a new paradigm of openness and transparency towards ourselves. It also requires a persistent, systematic effort to accept the views of others. The model is based on the underlying premise that our separateness from other people is illusory and actually impossible. The cloud of conflict, by its contradictory nature, is the key to establishing contacts, establishing connections, and building bridges.

Trying to resolve the conflict by finding the root problem (our original premise), we create a mental scheme that allows us to get out of the most improbable situations. A whole world of new possibilities opens up before us, and we go beyond ourselves to a much larger field of possibilities for interaction.

That is why the cloud of conflict is not just a tool for resolving disputes, but rather a starting point for transforming the organization’s structure to function on a more reasonable basis. The cloud of conflict develops and strengthens direct perception.

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