On a dark summer night, twelve people cling to a swamped and slowly sinking boat on a black tropical sea. They are not alone. A large shark glides below them, and soon, perhaps, there will be more. With fear thick in their salt-swollen throats, the twelve are faced with a difficult choice. If they kick in unison, they might be able to fight the fierce current and tides driving them away from the shore and all make it to safety. If they stick together, they have an equal chance to survive or drown. If they split up, each going it alone, one or two of the stronger swimmers might make it to safety, but the majority will certainly drown or be devoured by sharks.
What should the group do?
Who will take the leadership role?
What should the group agree on?
What does this scenario say about conflict?
This scenario started the 'Introduction to Conflict Resolution and Community Mediation' hosted at the Islamic Center of Tennessee by the Nashville Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC) Executive Director Tamara Losel and family mediator and board member Chuck Hill.
Attendees learned that everyone, everywhere in the world goes through conflict. Conflict with a spouse, family member, child, co-worker or friend is expected. Thankfully the world is not filled with automatons so as a result we do not see eye to eye and agree on everything. The secret to a successful resolution is how the conflict is managed.
Conflict Management is the way we look at disputes/disagreements and how we try to handle them.
There are many conflict management styles. Which are you? Maybe you are a mix of them all.
The Competing Shark- uses aggressive behavior to solve conflict, salvaging relationships are a low priority when solving conflict, is goal-oriented, can be threatening and uncooperative, needs to win so is uncompromising. This creates a win(shark)-lose situation.
The Avoiding Turtle- avoids and withdraws when it gets hot in the kitchen, hides and ignores than resolves, often gives up on personal goals just to keep the peace. This creates a lose-lose situation.
The Accommodating Teddy Bear- likes to accommodates and preserves relationships, often ignores their own needs, resolves conflicts by giving in to others, is quiet and cooperative. This creates a win- lose(for the bear) situation.
The Compromising Fox- wants to achieve goals and keep relationships, sacrifices some of their goals and gets others to do the same. The fox will always get part of what they want but not all of it. This may be a win or lose situation depending on what is being compromised and given up.
Lastly the Collaborating Owl- the wise owl achieves their goals and retains relationships. They are wise and patient, finding solutions that are agreeable to all sides. This is a win-win situation.
In addition to learning various conflict management styles, attendees learned how to mange conflicts with neighbor too.
For Muslims, we are to strive for upright conduct, character and actions in all settings and situations. We are to be a benefit to our family, neighbors, co-workers, friends and fellow citizens -it is part and parcel of our faith and required to being a good Muslim. And when there is conflict, Islam encourages peace,patience, forgiveness and reconciliation.
Allah has said in the Quran chapter 60 verse 7, "It may be that Allah will grant love and friendship between you and those whom you now hold as enemies. For Allah has power over all things; And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful"
Attendees left informed and wiser with these caveats: All things thinkable are not speak-able, think before you speak, ready-aim-fire not ready- fire-aim and keep your eyes on the prize when solving a conflict-so attack the problem not attack the person.
The Nashville Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC) is a community resource center where folks can go to work out problems without the high cost of litigation. Using mediation, negotiation, and dialogue as tools to resolve conflicts, NCRC helps individuals and groups communicate needs and interests, express grievances, and develop mutually acceptable solutions.
Their mission is to provide high-quality and affordable mediation services and conflict resolution education to Nashville communities - empowering individuals to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts without violence.