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Using conflict resolution processes to bring diverse groups together

Today, our political leaders model a common approach to conflict resolution. Our political leaders typically use the ‘compromise’ approach to resolve complex problems, including political disagreements.

Compromise is a process that brings two or more sides of an issue together to reach a conclusion that is generally somewhere just short of what either side wants. The fundamental premise is that each side has a solution. The compromise process aims to select those segments of each solution that both sides can live with.

The basic premise behind the two-party system is that the compromise approach will bring a balance to the final outcome, resulting in the most fair result possible. However, what is often overlooked is that compromise is not the only option for bringing diverse opinions and perspectives together. Nor is compromise necessarily the best approach for most situations. The possibility of a better solution is especially evident when dealing with complex and critical issues such as those related to the environment.

In debates about environmental issues, people often need to be brought together to consider new assumptions and new possibilities and to agree upon new outcomes. This kind of dynamic requires going beyond compromise and looking to the different approaches to the resolution process itself.

This report explores five different approaches that are available for resolving differences of opinions and points of conflict. Each approach offers unique opportunities and benefits. For the most complex and diverse discussions, including environmental debates, a formal approach that involves collaboration may be needed. The Collaborative Process that Dovetail Partners utilizes for group facilitation and problem solving is outlined in this report.

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