Conflict Resolution Starter Kit
(For conflicts between two people – not heraldry)
By Lara Coutinho-Dean (SCA: Baroness Sophia the Orange)
This blog post introduces my class on my Conflict Resolution Starter Kit. I have been teaching this class since mid-2017 in the SCA. I have practiced this method of resolving conflicts between people for 20+ years as part of my participation in the Woman Within program. To share this method as a class, I added perspective from a respected business leadership organization, “The Conscious Leadership Group” and a respected book “Critical Conversations” by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler.
Why listen to me? I have some training and 20+ years of experience in support groups. I’m not a professional mental health practitioner. I am an enthusiastic amateur. I care deeply about the emotional suffering people go through, and I have had some success myself in healing my own emotional wounds. I have witnessed many more people also heal their own emotional wounds, so I believe 100% that healing can be achieved. Teaching this very basic method of resolving personal conflicts is a small but effective tool that can help emotional healing, so I strive to share it as best I can.
The primary group I volunteer with is the Woman Within International organization (www.womanwithin.org) and its brother organization the ManKind Project (https://mkp.org). My parents both helped to create the chapters of these organizations in Indianapolis in the early 1990’s. My sister and husband are both active participants. Many of my dearest friends were found in these groups. These groups create safe spaces, training opportunities, and communities of people dedicated to personal emotional growth. If you’d like to know more, please ask me.
I have been a Woman Within member since February 1999 and an Empowerment Circles member since 1999. I have co-created three Empowerment Circles in Indianapolis, IN, Fairfax, VA, and Raleigh, NC.
Woman Within workshops that have provided me training include: Woman Within Training Weekend, Women Empowering Women, Circle Intensive Training, Women In Leadership, Money Shadow, Warrior Monk, Shadow Work (multiple workshops), Woman Within Archetypes & Wholeness workshop, Woman Within Staff Training; 12 workshops serving as staff for Woman Within Training Weekend (roles served: Nurturer, Rituals, Music, Regional Informational Meeting manager), and I often serve as a local Homecoming Ceremony Leader.
Why does a conflict resolution method matter?
The new SCA Bully Policy published in 2017 raised my own awareness of the need for this skill set to be taught more in the SCA community. The relevant policy is in this version of the SCA Organizational Handbook updated August 12, 2018 at this link: https://www.sca.org/docs/pdf/govdocs.pdf
The process for Grievances and Sanction is in Section X of the SCA Organizational Handbook. Section A is General, Section B is Grievances. Part 1 is Principles and part 2 is Procedures. The following is an excerpt:
- Try to work things out face-to-face. When someone does something that interferes with your appreciation of the Society in a way you can’t ignore, or that seems to be contrary to the rules, talk it over. Explain the problem as you see it and listen to the reply. (Likewise, if someone comes to you, listen carefully before you frame your answer.) Hopefully this will resolve the matter.”
This very first step described in this handbook is critical. It can feel overwhelming to go back and talk to someone you’ve just had a conflict with. In many circumstances, one conversation can really clear up a conflict, and this is where one could use my Conflict Resolution Starter Kit. This conversation remains informal and outside the official reporting chain of SCA Officers. I offer that officers could use this method in formally mediated conversations deeper into the complaint resolution process if they choose. My class is 100% unofficial and not approved by any SCA entity. This is just one method of holding a conversation that I suggest could help in a heavily charged emotional situation.
Anyone can use it at any time. Seasonal holidays and family gatherings are times when conflicts can be eased by using tools like this.
Specifically for the SCA community: In all kingdoms, very strong recommendations exist for at least one attempt at a personal one-on-one conversation to resolve conflicts before reporting a conflict to an officer. This method is useful for the day-to-day interactions between SCA participants that commonly create conflict. This method is NOT intended for sexual harassment, hate crimes, bigotry, and other severe offenses. This method is intended for friends and friendly acquaintances working together in our SCA community to work together more smoothly.
This method does rely on some expectations that need to be shared by both parties:
- Both parties must want to clear up the conflict.
- Both parties must be ready to make an attempt at resolution.
- Both parties must be available to give this conversation their total attention for some agreed amount of time. (I recommend at least a 1/2 hour.)
It is critical that you, if you are initiating this resolution conversation, take time to figure yourself out first. Consider seriously what you need in this relationship. What do you need to remove this “pebble in your shoe?” Here are some possible ways to describe what you need:
- I need to understand better why that argument happened.
- I just need to say what my side of the story is.
- I need to ask you to hear what I have to say and acknowledge it.
- I need to ask for an apology from you.
- I need to ask you to stop a certain behavior.
You cannot control the other person, but you can ask for change. Asking makes it possible for your relationship to change for the better. If you don’t ask, you’ll never know. If you get an answer of “No”, then at least you know where you stand. You can make choices about how you interact with the other person from a more knowledgeable perspective in the future.
This method is a tool, not a magic potion. It will take some work on the part of both parties to use the tool to clear up the junk between them. It will take some work for each individual to figure out what they need, ask for what they need, accept the response, and then move on and let go.
This technique is a place to start. It may be all you need or it may be a door into the next step. That could be a long journey. It is, however, a very good place to start when you feel overwhelmed.
If this method doesn’t ring true for you, by all means, move on to the next tool that might help you. This is one that pops up in many emotional management environments. This method and similar variations have been viewed as successful by numerous organizations. (Just do an online search for “Crucial Conversations” to see the wide breadth of organizations using that book.) Try it on for size. Consider practicing it with a friend before you try it on someone you’re in conflict with.
I am an enthusiastic amateur so use of my methods are 100% at your own risk. I’m acting as a concerned citizen of my community when offering this information. I guarantee nothing. I do my best to help, and pain-free success is not guaranteed.
Please read my class handout available at this link (https://drive.google.com/open?id=15N7X8muROKKJjF-5gTH2UwHy4BuVuxqkHN4N0Y6lV2E ) , watch the Conscious Leadership Group’s video (https://conscious.is/video/how-to-use-the-clearing-model) , and explore more from the web pages at:
I am teaching this class online for the first time on December 17, 2019 at 8:00pm using Zoom.us for an online conference room. You can join in via your home computer, smartphone, or call in via regular phone for an audio-only experience. Please use the following links and numbers:
Join Zoom Meeting
Dial by phone for audio only
+1 646 876 9923
Meeting ID: 466 668 444
If you would like to know the next time I am going to teach this class, in person or online, please email me at orangesophie AT gmail DOT com.
Thank you and good luck out there,
Lara Coutinho-Dean / Baroness Sophia the Orange