When negotiating conflict it is crucial that one is clear with the goals of any intervention, whether it be mediation or management.
Do you seek peace or civility?
Peace usually refers to an ongoing positive relationship, one bearing mutual respect and collaboration. Civility, on the other hand, usually connotes a relationship that is endured rather than enjoyed. Those parties to a civil relationship acknowledge that co-operation yields more fruit than conflict, but they participate reluctantly.
Although peace may be the end goal, civility is often a necessary step in achieving it.
The road from hopeless conflict to blissful peace is bridged by civility. A bridge serves to facilitate movement from one side of an obstacle to the other but it is never the destination. It can, however, function as a refuge for someone not yet ready to cross it.
Civil relationships can be relegated to the cessation of hostilities or it can be the first step towards something substantial. Although one might need to initially tread carefully, scared of doing or saying anything that may reignite the conflict, it can also become an opportunity to prove one’s trustworthiness.
Positive relationships are built on trust. The bridge of civility functions as a means to build, or rebuild, trust. If we are serious about improving our working and personal relationships we need to shift the paradigm from “Why should I trust you?” to “This is why you should trust me!”
We need to focus on earning trust not demanding it.