Dialogue as a Way of Being: Three Fundamental Considerations for Transforming Conflict From Adversarial to Dialogic Relation

Dialogue as a Way of Being: Three Fundamental Considerations for Transforming Conflict From Adversarial to Dialogic Relation

Tzofnat Peleg-Baker (Rutgers University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7585-6.ch003

Abstract

The rapidly changing world we live in is fraught with increasing divisions and destructive conflict. Consequently, a resilient social fabric becomes crucial for people to feel included and benefit from their differences. The quality of relationships and the social environments, within which they are constantly being formed, are critical for successfully addressing divisive challenges and the destructive conflicts they might spawn. This chapter proposes a framework of three considerations for transforming conflict: 1. The mode of relationship- how the Self relates to the Other, 2. The understanding of conflict, and 3. The social environment and the role of leadership. Revisiting assumptions pertaining to these considerations can support a shift from the unit of the individual (typically characterizes Western cultural and scientific traditions) to the relational unit. This shift is viewed as a premise for long-term conflict transformation from adversarial interactions into dialogic relation. The latter is suggested as a constructive mode of relationship: a way of being with one another that diminishes destructive relationship while generating the conditions for benefiting and learning from conflict. The chapter concluded with an example of relational transformation as a combination of both micro efforts- consciousness raising to relational dynamics, and macro work—restructuring social context and advancing systemic changes in education.
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Introduction: From An Individual To A Relational Orientation

Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world. Nelson Mandela

The speedily changing volatile world we inhabit, tense with rifts and destructive conflicts, poses a significant challenge: how to thrive with differences. While human connections have expanded and amplified with the promise of the information age, new technologies, and the explosion of social media, quality relationship in a more profound and authentic sense lingers behind. Regardless of abundant opportunities to connect, modernity gave rise to alienation and isolation.

More than ever, people are eager to be included, express their voice, and partake in decision-making. They crave to shape their own reality. Quality relationships are critical for being constructively engage, and furthermore, for benefiting from diverse perspectives. The quality of relationship profoundly determines whether these aspirations to effectively participate could be realized.

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