Conflict management

Conflict management covers a wide area. It ranges from coaching and mediating in individual conflict situations to setting up a management system to prevent conflicts or to resolve them at an early stage. Mediation is an example of the former, and the latter is the setting up of a complaints handling system.

It is an art and the skill to prevent a conflict from breaking out in potentially conflict-prone situations or, if it does happen unexpectedly, to ensure that it is resolved or otherwise limited.

But what is solving? In a sense, running away is a solution, but so is hitting someone else’s head with an ax. It has several consequences, neither of which is satisfactory. In my view, solving is something completely different, namely, learning to “see” that the other is also a person, or is only a person, no different from myself, with good sides and also flaws.

I have always been interested in conflict as a phenomenon. In 1997 I followed my first mediation training. Over the years, I have further expanded the knowledge I gained through experience and study. For example, I followed the Conflict Management postdoc course at the University of Maastricht in the years 2003/2004. Over the years, the question arose more and more of what a conflict actually is. Why is it that one person is always involved in conflicts and another only rarely? In search of an answer to these kinds of questions, I developed a conflict model that shows how a conflict arises, what the mechanisms are that start, maintain and feed it and what you can do about it. It has taken several years of study of a variety of subjects to get there.

Experience and study have taught me, among other things, that conflicts are never really about the conflict material. That seems almost unthinkable to the people in the conflict, but I have come to the conclusion that conflict is about what you need to learn. The conflict is proof that some facet of life is not yet learned, or under control.

I have published my conflict model in a number of articles, mostly in Dutch. You will find these under the listing of the articles on the left of the navigation screen or in the sitemap in the Dutch part of this website.

The most complete representation is in the English article: An Autopoietic Conflict Model.