Archive for the ‘Conflict Resolution’ Category

Getting in touch with your feelings? While waiting for a client at a coffee shop, I just read an article by a talented writer discussing the topic of emotional self-discovery. I immediately identified with the writer. Among other things, he argues that above 80 % of successful people are very ‘self aware’ Ie, they are in touch with their inner self, emotions, feelings… etc.

Check this out:

‘You can never achieve your fullest potential and experience life the way you want unless you truly delve deep within and cultivate self-awareness’.

Three inter-related skills for self awareness:

  1. Emotional awareness – knowing how emotions affect performance
  2. Accurate self-assessment – an internal Ss & Ws (from SWOT)
  3. Self confidence – courage that comes with clear self-knowledge of our capabilities

Too many ‘self’s used in this post. I sound selfish but trust me I’m not! In addition to the above skills, the author argues there are strategies one can deploy in order to maximize self awareness and create positive changes in one’s life. They include:

  • The third eye – look at yourself from an angle – an elevated position – that allows you to escape your emotions for a second – only one second cause he also argues that one should face the truth, sort of face the bull by the horns kind of thing  – take a look from an elevated angle and that will provide you with an objective view and breather before you act.
  • Through the eyes of others – ever felt there was a discrepancy between how you see yourself and others see you?  well maybe if you ask close people around you for feedback and see yourself through the eyes of others,  this will make you see the bigger picture and how your emotions including reactions affect those around you.
  • The physical side of emotions – often times emotions express themselves thorough the body, for example stress in the neck, gut feeling, goos bumps, etc. The body is not far off from the mind. I know this as I practice yoga and in yoga one tries to turn inwards and bridge the gap between the mind, self (emotions included) and body.
  • Find yourself through beauty – not sure if this works for you cause it didn’t do it for me but the gist here is to listen to music, read novels, go to museums and see how you feel in these situations? Getting any closer to yourself – maybe not…
  • Embrace discomfort – I can seal and stamp this one – often times we differ things, procrastinate, put off calling your aunt, your potential client, neighbor, etc. I am the master of procrastination and putting off things to the last minute instead of facing tough situations. When you ignore the feelings that disturb you, they will come back and bite you in the behind at the worst time possible. So face that bull by the horns but be prepared – you might unleash that devil in you! be careful what you wish for!

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Joe Zaarour

Credit goes to: Richard Labaki, Push magazine, Daniel Goleman’s ‘Emotional Intelligence’



  • a consciousness of interdependence and the concept of “power with” instead of “power over” others.
  • When we focus on clarifying what is being observed, felt, needed, and wanted, rather than on diagnosing and judging, we discover the depth of our own compassion.
  • Both sides of the NVC model: empathetically listening and honestly expressing, use the four steps of the model: observations, feelings, needs, requests.
  • NVC guides us in reframing how we express ourselves and hear others. Instead of being habitual, automatic reactions, our words become conscious responses based firmly on an awareness of what we are perceiving, feeling, and wanting. We are led to express ourselves with honesty and clarity, while simultaneously paying others a respectful and empathic attention. In any exchange, we come to hear our own deeper needs and those of others.
  • Through its emphasis on deep listening—to ourselves as well as others—NVC fosters respect, attentiveness, and empathy, and engenders a mutual desire to give from the heart.
  • Four components of NVC:
    1. observation
    2. feeling
    3. needs
    4. request
  • It guides us to reframe the way we express ourselves and listen to others by focusing our consciousness on four areas: what we are observing, feeling, and needing and what we are requesting to enrich our lives.
  • Its purpose is to
    • create human connections that empower compassionate giving and receiving
    • create governmental and corporate structures that support compassionate giving and receiving.
  • The process of NVC encourages us to focus on what we and others are observing separate from our interpretations and judgments.
  • NVC skills include:
  1. Differentiating observation from evaluation, being able to carefully observe what is happening free of evaluation, and to specify behaviors and conditions that are affecting us;
  2. Differentiating feeling from thinking, being able to identify and express internal feeling states in a way that does not imply judgment, criticism, or blame/punishment;
  3. Connecting with the universal human needs/values (e.g. sustenance, trust, understanding) in us that are being met or not met in relation to what is happening and how we are feeling; and
  4. Requesting what we would like in a way that clearly and specifically states what we do want (rather than what we don’t want), and that is truly a request and not a demand (i.e. attempting to motivate, however subtly, out of fear, guilt, shame, obligation, etc. rather than out of willingness and compassionate giving).


  • Requesting what we would like in a way that clearly and specifically states what we do want (rather than what we don’t want), and that is truly a request and not a demand (i.e. attempting to motivate, however subtly, out of fear, guilt, shame, obligation, etc. rather than out of willingness and compassionate giving)

At first, I thought this statement was ambiguous or contradictory – trying to motivate out of fear, guilt, shame, etc. rather than out of willingness and compassion. But focusing on what we want rather than on what we do NOT want – feelings, emotions, needs, wants rater than thinking and analyzing ?



  • 15000 tribes on the planet, family reunions, conflicts, how do we deal with our differences?
  • secret to peace: us – we act as a surrounding community around any conflict
  • when tempers rise, hide your weapons and sit down to talk  – cooling off period
  • this system: 3rd side – always! it’s us – the allies, family members, etc… remind them what’s at stake
  • involved conflict members easily loose perspective
  • when angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret
  • go to the balcony, a place of perspective, the 3rd side
  • role of the 3rd side: help us go to the balcony – before you react, think twice, go to the balcony, a breather before you retaliate
  • who do we worry about certain conflicts and not others? because of the story,  we feel personally involved
  • stories matter – we use to transmit knowledge, to give meaning to our lives
  • Abraham: symbolic 3rd side (respect, hospitality), a living presence
  • what is terrorism: taking a basic stranger and then treating them as an enemy who you want to murder in order to create fear
  • live the story, go for a walk on the 3rd side – walking has a real power, side by side, shoulder to shoulder


  • On Ury’s diagram of the sides of conflict, the “third side” encircles both the other two sides. Why is this? How does this relationship contribute to the success of the “third side” in conflict resolution?

A cliche ? Maybe not. I guess the idea of having a third party has been around but the push and drive to involve outsiders as third party mediators but the importance of this message is to take a breather and actually take the first step towards engagement and that 3rd side.

  • Ury says “the role of the third side is to help the parties go to the balcony.” What does this mean to you? Can you think of a real-life example where you saw this idea in action?

My 2 sisters where once arguing over something and they reached a deadlock. I listened for hours at them getting at each other with accusations and arguments and I thought maybe I could intervene. I walked over to one of them, asked her to stand up and held her hand and we both walked to my other sister’s side – trivial as it may sound, that actually made them rationalize and be less emotional.

  • Ury says “stories matter.” How do you think that stories can affect conflict, both positively and negatively? Why?

it’s like Ury said, we identity with certain characters in the story and take sides, we feel emotionally charged when there is a story that could relate to us in any remote form or shape.

  • In his talk, Ury talks about the difference between face-to-face confrontation and shoulder-to-shoulder communication. How does physical positioning impact the emotional/communicative dynamics of relationships?

pls refer to the second bullet. Also, remember 80% of communication is conveyed through body language.

  • How can you go “from hostility to hospitality” in regard to conflicts in your own life?

Take a breather, think positively, count to 10 before responding, acknowledge the ether’s feelings and perspective.

  • How does the Abrahamic walk create change within communities? What are other symbolic gestures that can positively impact relations?

It could trigger a drive or community of followers that symbolically could make a difference but for me the idea as a technique is more important than the walk itself.


The simplistic approach of introducing a third party or metaphorically taking a walk on the balcony – I mean this has been around for quite a while and I wonder if any conflict is actually resolved or resolved faster simply by the introduction of a third party or a walk on the balcony so to speak.

With all due respect to the author and to his theory, But is Ury trying to convince us that he is able to solve conflicts by simply introducing a third party or walk on the balcony and by referring to Abraham as the common denominator for a deep-rooted, Centuries old, geopolitical, regional, international, high value $$, high impact, and resource-packed region conflict. I mean let’s be realistic! How about moving from the theoretical realm and get real just for a while. The more we start taking concrete real-life examples the flatter the learning curve gets. I know we have to start at a 30000 feet view but still…

I think we should choose a real case conflict and evaluate the steps taken by parties 1, 2 & 3 and asses their impact.

Take a step back and think along the lines of: Who introduces this third party? What are its objectives? motives? What legitimacy does it bring to the table? Is it credible? Is it completely neutral with no interests what so ever? No direct or indirect benefits? No religious, cultural, or economic points to gain?

I can name tens of conflicts where the third party does nothing but complicate things and introduce new stakeholders ($) to an already messy tangled web of emotions, needs, perceptions and false hope…  OR  actually solves the conflict but at what and who’s expense???  Something or someone has to give…

My 2cents worth…

Joe Zaarour, P2PU

Article & source


  • Escalation refers to an increase in the intensity of a conflict and in the severity of tactics used in pursuing it. It is driven by changes within each of the parties, new patterns of interaction between them, and the involvement of new parties in the struggle.[1]
  • Conflict theorists Dean Pruitt and Jeffrey Rubin list five changes that occur as a conflict escalates.:
    • move from light tactics to heavy tactics
    • numbers of issues in contention expands, and parties devote more resources to the struggle
    • issues move from specific to general
    • the number of parties grows from one to many
    • goals change from doing well to winning
  • Many note that destructive social and inter-personal conflicts always begin with the emergence of contentious goals of two adversaries.Threats to identity tend to arouse feelings of anger and fear, which can in turn fuel conflict escalation.
  • In many instances, the parties view each other as having relatively high aspirations or regard the issues under dispute as ones that cannot be compromised.
  • Past grievances, feelings of injustice, and a high level of frustration may also provoke escalation. Hostility-driven escalation is typically caused by grievances or a sense of injustice, and may ultimately be rooted in events of the distant past.
  • Hostility-driven conflicts tend to escalate for trivial reasons, and also become unnecessarily violent.[17]
  • When our expectations are unmet, we revert to illusions of control, “unrealistically expecting all people to behave and all situations to turn out as we think they should
  • Various frameworks can be used to better understand the dynamics of conflict escalation. Pruitt, Rubin, and Kim discuss three broad models of escalation: the aggressor-defender model, the conflict-spiral model and the structural-change model.[20] Taken together, these three accounts of what occurs during escalation can help to make sense of a wide variety of conflicts. Process models:
    • Models: Aggressor-defender
    • conflict spiral
    • structural change
  • Escalation is both a cause and a result of significant psychological changes among the parties involved. In addition to anger and fear discussed above, negative attitudes, perceptions, and stereotypes of the opponent can drive escalation, as well as being caused by it (another spiral).
  • After conflict has begun, the relations between the adversaries change in certain fundamental ways. In light of the psychological changes discussed above, their interaction becomes contentious, the number of issues in contention expands, and the parties become polarized.[37] The adversaries become increasingly isolated from each other, and their harsh actions tend to reinforce each other’s negative stereotypes.
  • Internal changes that groups undergo during escalation include not only the social-psychological changes discussed above, but also changes at the group or collective level. Dynamics at the individual level are often accentuated by collective discussion and tend to become group norms. Collective goals of defeating the enemy develop, as well as increased group cohesiveness.[47] Once people realize that others share their views and hear new arguments favoring them, their own perceptions are validated and reinforced. Group discussion can in this way cause individual members to become more extreme in their hostile attitudes. The number of moderates in the group thus begins to diminish as more and more people come to hold extreme views.[48]
  • This process of dehumanization makes any moral norms against harming other human beings seem irrelevant.


I loved Maiese’s destructive escalation piece. It is practical, methodical and simple. My memory of the short experience I went through in Lebanon’s past conflicts reinforces many ideas and theories outlined mainly the dehumanization process that transforms norms against harming humans into irrelevant and somehow ‘acceptable’.

In addition, the development of group solidarity, or cohesiveness, is very evident and contributes to escalation. Especially within groups that have little internal diversity. But I wonder whether the diversity of any group is transformed into a fictitious unity just for the sake of satisfying those ‘needs’. What do you think?

Joe Zaarour, P2PU

Article & source


  • Unlike Maslow’s hierarchal positioning of needs, Burton perceives human needs in a different way — as an emergent collection of human development essentials.[2] Furthermore, they contend needs do not have a hierarchical order. Rather, needs are sought simultaneously in an intense and relentless manner.[3] Needs theorists’ list of human essentials include:
  • Human needs theorists argue that one of the primary causes of protracted or intractable conflict is people’s unyielding drive to meet their unmet needs on the individual, group, and societal level.[4] For example, the Palestinian conflict involves the unmet needs of identity and security. Countless Palestinians feel that their legitimate identity is being denied them, both personally and nationally. Numerous Israelis feel they have no security individually because of suicide bombings, nationally because their state is not recognized by many of their close neighbors, and culturally because anti-Semitism is growing worldwide. Israeli and Palestinian unmet needs directly and deeply affect all the other issues associated with this conflict. Consequently, if a resolution is to be found, the needs of Palestinian identity and Israeli security must be addressed and satisfied on all levels.
  • The human needs approach, on the other hand, supports collaborative and multifaceted problem-solving models and related techniques, such as problem-solving workshops or an analytical problem-solving process. These models take into account the complexity of human life and the insistent nature of human needs.[8] Problem-solving approaches also analyze the fundamental sources of conflict, while maintaining a focus on fulfilling peoples’ unmet needs. In addition, they involve the interested parties in finding and developing acceptable ways to meet the needs of all concerned.
  • REMAINING QUESTIONS: how can one define human needs? How can one know what needs are involved in conflict situations? How can one know what human needs are being met and unmet? Are human needs cultural or universal in nature? If they are cultural, is the analysis of human needs beneficial beyond a specific conflict? Are some needs inherently more important than others? If some needs are more important, should these be pursued first?


I totally identify with Burton’s view of perceiving needs as an emergent collection of human development essentials and contending that needs do not have a hierarchical order rather, are sought simultaneously in an intense and relentless but I felt the premise of the article was based more on simplistic pillars than deep-rooted behavioural basis. Human needs are extremely subjective, vary tremendously between individuals even of the same social group and change with time, emotions and surrounding space/environment. Also, supported by the sceptics that contend needs are not easily defined  and quantified, one would wonder how Burton et al’s theory plays out in a conflict.

Joe Zaarour, P2PU