What is “Conflict Literacy?”
Conflict literacy begins with seeing conflict as an opportunity for growth and positive change. It also involves learning, practicing and integrating a range of concepts, skills and tools that enable us to understand and work skillfully with conflict.
We have grouped these into what we call the “10 Core Competencies of Conflict Literacy:”
- Embrace Helpful Attitudes & Beliefs About Conflict
- Create Basic Frameworks for Understanding Conflict
- Establish Conditions for Learning & Transformation
- Build Awareness of Physical & Emotional Responses to Conflict
- Enhance Ability to Regulate Emotions in Conflict
- Cultivate Empathy & Compassion
- Support Skillful Communication
- Evaluate & Improve Relationships & Systems
- Support Healing & Restoration During & After Conflict
- Restore Hope, Trust, and a Sense of Belonging
With some basic understanding of the 10 Core Competencies, what comes next is PRACTICE. By practicing new skills in supportive learning environments, we begin to transform conflicts into opportunities for creativity, healing and new possibilities where there might have been negative outcomes. Ideally, our groups, teams and organizations (communities of purpose) become communities of practice.
A community of practice can be as small as two people, or as large as a several thousand-member network. The common thread is that members of the community commit to ongoing learning and practicing of conflict literacy skills.
Model of Conflict Literacy for Organizations
Our model of Conflict Literacy for organizations includes four primary elements:
ASSESS – evaluating the current situation and identifying key areas for learning
LEARN – engaging with the core competencies of conflict literacy in supportive environments
PRACTICE – applying tools and skills in real life, in real time, through communities of practice
INTEGRATE – embedding conflict literacy in a group’s culture, values, policies, and processes
Together, these elements strengthen organizational and personal capacity to understand, address, and transform conflict. Developing conflict literacy allows us to apply our skills in a range of conflicts.
In real life, and in real time.
Even applying a few new skills can help to de-escalate a highly charged situation, while we build longer-term conflict literacy in ourselves and our organizations.
Increased conflict literacy contributes to increased resiliency.
When we are resilient as individuals, we can bounce back from the sting of interpersonal conflicts and keep showing up for our movement work. When we are resilient as groups, we can work through various conflicts, freeing up energy and resources for our critical work in the world.
Then we are better able to navigate everything from creative tensions in the workplace, to negotiating the terms of a collaboration, to confronting racism, injustice or environmental degradation.
The more we, as individuals and organizations, develop a shared body of knowledge and understanding, the more effectively we can work together toward common goals. The more we develop conflict literacy, the stronger our progressive movement organizations become. Then our work can be more effective, more impactful, and a lot more fun.
Why ”Conflict Transformation?”
Transformation is about change. There are many familiar ways to describe the process of working with conflict – including Conflict Resolution, Mediation/Arbitration, and Conflict Management.
We use the term “Conflict Transformation” because it is broad enough to encompass a wide range of potential outcomes and changes, not limited to what one might recognize as a ‘resolution.’ More conflict literacy = more potential for transforming conflicts.