Conflict Resolution: From Blockage to Opportunity

June 2012 DwD was presented by Rick Wallace of Peacebuilding International Consulting.

We live and work in a world where conflict exists at multiple scales (locally, nationally and internationally) and contexts (social, economic, cultural, political, and environmental).  Conflicts can be interpersonal, collective, organizational, structural and/or psycho-spiritual.  They can be over values, beliefs, relationships, data, structures, identities and/or competing interests

One thing is certain: conflicts are inevitable. Designing a system to transform conflicts involves, among other things, the values of inclusiveness, mutual respect, participatory processes, collaborative and responsive decision-making, and shared power.  One of the factors that separates constructive outcomes from destructive dynamics are the approach, design and skills of communicating and negotiating.

Whether the conflict be a large-scale social-cultural conflict, an organizational dispute or deteriorating interpersonal relationships, one process of transforming conflict involves the use of interest-based negotiating and strategic communication.

In this workshop, we will outline the basic skills and designs for resolving various types of conflict with a focus on our own interpersonal and workplace relationships. To do so, we will focus on the analytical and communication skills that assist in identifying the nature of the conflicts, de-escalates and clarifies issues, and encourages collaborative problem-solving.

This DwD session explored:

  • The dynamics and meaning of conflict
  • Strategies and skills for facilitating communication within conflict
  • Ways to effectively raise issues and concerns
  • How to utilize interest-based approaches for both negotiation and system design

The session adapted our own experiences to think about the ways people (ourselves) generally deal with conflict. Exercises included active listening in simulated conflict, and working in triads to enact role-play scenarios in order to practice these skills and approaches.

Rick Wallace working with participants.

Contributions from group dialogue.

Rick Wallace brings over 20 years of national and international experience as an adult educator and 14 years as a trainer and mediator in conflict resolution, negotiation, strategic planning and leadership skills.

In Canada, he has worked for agencies such as St. Stephen’s Community House coordinating the Community Mediation Program, as well as the Conflict Mediation Services of Downsview, designing and providing training on conflict resolution, mediation, negotiation, restorative justice and facilitation.

Internationally, Rick has worked with the UN Department of Political Affairs and UNHCR in Rwanda coordinating humanitarian relief.   He currently heads up Peacebuilding International Consulting (  He is also the author of a forthcoming book, Community-Based Peacebuilding:  Indigenous-non-Indigenous Alliances in Canada (Spring 2013, Fernwood Press).  Rick holds a PhD (Peace Studies), LLM (International Human Rights) and an MA (Adult Education).