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mediation and conflict Mediation

Top Ten
1.) Poor Communication

2.) Difficult Personalities

3.) Problems in Relationships

4.) Unmet Expectations

5.) Conflicts over Rights or Power

6.) Hierarchical or Undemocratic Organizations

7.) Lack of Clarity in Roles and Responsibilities

8.) Contradictory Self-Interests

9.) Scarce Resources

10.) Externalization of Internal Conflicts


What follows are a set of alternative definitions of conflict drawn from Ken Cloke's experience over several years in mediating a wide variety of disputes:

1.) Conflict represents a lack of awareness of the immanence of death or sudden catastrophe.

2.) Conflict arises wherever there is a failure of collaboration or community.

3.) Conflict reflects an ignorance of our essential inter-connectedness, of the beauty of the human spirit.

4.) Conflict is a lack of acceptance of ourselves that we have projected onto others, a way of blaming someone else for what we perceive as failures in our own lives, of diverting attention from our mistakes.

5.) Conflict represents a boundary violation, a failure to value or recognize our own integrity, and therefore the personal space of others.

6.) Conflict reflects a need to support or maintain a false image of who we are.

7.) Conflict is a way of obtaining the acknowledgement, sympathy or support we need by casting ourselves as the victim of some evil doer.

8.) Conflict is a lack of skill or experience at being able to handle a particular kind of behavior.

9.) Conflict is the continued pursuit of our own false expectations, the desire to hold on to our unrealistic fantasies.

10.) Conflict is a lack of appreciation of subtlety in what someone else is saying .

11.) Conflict is a result of what is not communicated, of secrets, confusion and cover-up.

What is common to each of these definitions is that our conflicts begin and end with us, and with the systems that we inhabit. They have little or nothing to do with the people we are fighting with. Each opens a window of awareness and offers us a unique and powerful opportunity for personal or organizational transformation that depends on our openness and capacity for listening to voices not our own.


The following forms of communication have been
identified as leading to conflict, or helping to aggravate it:

1.) Personal criticism or disparagement leading to feelings of injury or injustice, such as: "You are mean."

2.) Coercive or demanding statements, such as: "You will... " or You have to..."

3.) Statements of rebuff or devaluation, such as: "You are a lousy ... "

4.) Attribution of blame, such as: "It's all your fault."

5.) Threatening statements, such as: "If you don't _______, I'll .... "

6.) Accusations or discovery of dishonesty, such as: "You lied to me."

7.) Categorical statements, such as: "You always ..." or "You never ... "

8.) Characterizing assumptions, such as: "If you really loved me, you would..."

9.) Denial of the other person's experiences or feelings, such as: "You did not" or "You don't love me."

10.) Double bind messages, such as asking for something and punishing when it is given.

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