Beyond Neutrality

Beyond Neutrality

Share

Mayer, Bernard S. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2004 Audio summary available
Price: $99.
Subscribe
Price:
$9.95

IN THIS SUMMARY

After a journey toward acceptance and establishment over the last quarter century, conflict resolution, as a professional practice, is now facing a crisis. In large part, this is because it has not addressed conflict in a profound or powerful enough fashion. As a result, it has not been fully embraced in all the arenas of public life in which it might be useful. The field has the potential to make a much more significant difference than it has in how conflicts are handled—whether they are interpersonal, communal, organizational, international, or societal conflicts. Practitioners must, says author Bernard S. Mayer, an international authority in the field, see their role in a broader way than as simply conflict resolvers, as third-party neutrals. They must, in Mayer’s view, focus on conflict engagement, on assisting at all stages of conflict: helping disputants to understand the nature of the conflict, to understand the needs of the disputing parties, to identify all the processes that may be available to engage conflict constructively, even how to raise or escalate conflict, if and when necessary, to reveal the underlying causes of the surface conflict, while maintaining open and amicable dialogue. This new focus does not call for an abandonment of the skills and roles that conflict resolution has traditionally offered, such as mediation, facilitation, and arbitration, but rather an expansion upon them. It calls for a deeper understanding of the dynamics of human engagement, thus opening the way to an expansion of roles beyond mediator, facilitator, and arbitrator to include advocate, adviser, coach, and negotiator. These expanded roles are crucial because conflict, for the most part, is not diffused or resolved by third-party neutrals, but by the disputants themselves with the assistance of advocates and advisers. The challenge facing most practitioners, therefore, will be to stretch their thinking about their essential roles and the range of ways in which they can fulfill this task.