In last week’s blog, I mentioned one paradox (competition and cooperation) discussed by Bernard Mayer in his book, The Conflict Paradox (ABA and Jossey-Bass, 2015). A second one is avoidance and engagement.
Like the first paradox, on superficial glance, avoidance and engagement appear to be polar opposites. But, upon deeper reflection, and like the first paradox, they actually work in tandem; we engage to avoid and avoid to engage.
A perfect example is mediation. Parties come to mediation (i.e., engage) to resolve disputes (i.e., avoid litigation or prolonged involvement with the other party). And even during the mediation, the parties avoid to engage and engage to avoid. I have always found it oxymoronic that parties come to mediation to resolve a matter with each other but often insist on doing so without talking to the other party directly. At least here in California, the parties do not even want to start with a joint session (i.e., engagement) but rather, engage the other party in settlement discussions and resolution strictly by using separate sessions and the mediator as the go between or conduit ( i.e. avoidance). I have conducted a few mediations in which the whole matter was mediated, the terms of the settlement agreement worked out, the agreement signed and everyone left without the parties ever actually seeing each other!
Now that I have read this chapter in the book, I understand why. As the author explains,
…avoidance and engagement are essential to each other. When we avoid one conflict, we may be setting up another. When we choose to engage in one conflict, we may be setting up another. When we choose to engage in one conflict, we are likely avoiding another…. ------------------------------------- If you would like to receive this blog automatically by e mail each week, please click on one of the following plugins/services:
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