Thu 20 Aug 2020 4:45AM

Developing our Conflict Resolution Policy

NW Niki Wallace Public Seen by 7

Objective: This is a policy and guide for conflict resolution, it should inform navigation of grey zones and plural perspectives in conflict.

Scope: This policy should include guides for handling complaints, a grievance policy for managing complaints against responsible members, provide guidance on balancing privacy and transparency in processes, and the engagement of third parties (external) for assistance.

Guiding questions:

How should we distinguish between tensions, disagreements and conflict?
How can we ensure this policy encourages continual processes of unlearning hierarchy and damaging power structures?
How could this policy encourage non-judgemental processes?
How can we ensure this policy and the processes stemming from it are respectful, human and real?
How can we ensure people feel heard (and understood) as part of these processes?

Initial Discussion:

We explored what's worked/not worked for us historically

  • Need for policies to guide the navigation of grey zones - avoiding black and white binaries that don't accomodate flexibly

  • Failures of democracy: Majority rules versus minority needs

  • Neutralising strong voices—managing hierarchy as an unlearning process

  • Intimidation and power (blindsiding) avoiding the power struggle

  • Not quelling passion but also not enabling passion to become aggression (or be perceived as aggression)

  • Leaving judgement behind

  • Communicating where the conflict is coming from—keeping this open

  • Allowing time for processing and responding but not letting it linger (balancing act)

  • Privacy, do we keep it internal, at what point do we look outside for help (mediation)

  • Third party support—what does this look like for us?

  • Understanding disagreement is ok, learning to be comfortable with tension and knowing the difference between tension and conflict

The open g-doc for this policy is here.


Niki Wallace Thu 20 Aug 2020 4:54AM

Open processes for challenging conversations

Transitioning the structure of 'grievance officer' towards a shared experience such as case clinics (taken from Theory U and practiced in Microsolidarity). People are always heard by multiple other people (usually 5) who can weigh in on the challenges being faced using a round-robin process. The openness of this is quite human and respectful, can give processes greater transparency (becoming a shared process of learning from one another and these experiences).

Could be interesting to explore as a process for what I call 'proactive mediation' as a preliminary process in conflict resolution.


Niki Wallace Thu 20 Aug 2020 4:59AM

Learnings from Enspiral

Three step process outlined in enspiral's process has a lot of great start points we can adapt...

1. Contemplate Conflict

  • Take time to process experiences if you feel confused, overwhelmed or agitated.

  • Note uncertainties and possible misunderstandings in your interactions, including cultural differences.

  • Distinguish people's actions from your feelings about them. They're both important, but they're different.

  • Distinguish disagreement from personal hostility. We're allowed to disagree, dissent and discuss.

  • Review relevant documents and Conflict Resolution Support.

If you've contemplated the experience and have decided it feels like it may be harassment or abuse, please consult our Harassment and Abuse Policy.

2. Invite Conversation

If you're unable to resolve a conflict on your own, invite conversation. The sooner the better.

  • If you feel able and safe to, directly discuss your concerns with the person you are in conflict with.

  • Otherwise, see Conflict Resolution Support.

  • Consider your communication approach; Comms Guidelines might be helpful.

  • Ensure a mutually agreeable time and place for conversation, including adequate privacy.

3. Develop a Plan

  • Foster inclusive dialogue by sharing ideas, asking clarifying questions, and responding to others' ideas.

    • Identify personal wants and needs.

    • Make offers or requests.

  • In complex conflicts, develop points of agreement to facilitate progress.

  • Propose plans to treat conflict in a mutually satisfactory way.

  • Mutually sign written plans in serious cases, or whenever desired.

  • Follow up later to discuss progress.


Niki Wallace Thu 20 Aug 2020 5:02AM

From Holocracy:

We liked this language for ‘restoration’ if things really break down:


Whenever an authorized party declares a Process Breakdown within a Circle, the following occurs:

  • (a) the Facilitator of the Super-Circle gains a Project to restore due-process within the Circle; and

  • (b) the Facilitator of the Super-Circle gains the authority to take over as Facilitator or Secretary of the Circle, or to appoint someone else to do so; and

  • (c) the Facilitator of the Circle gains the authority to judge the accuracy of any arguments presented to validate Tensions or Objections within the Circle’s Governance Process.

These authorities are temporary and cease as soon as the Facilitator of the Super-Circle concludes that due process has been restored within the Circle.


Niki Wallace Fri 28 Aug 2020 5:12AM

Language choices

Jude and I met again today to discuss the conflict resolution policy and are exploring some different language to focus more on ideas of restoration. Working language for this is 'restorative processes' which aim to restore harmony through different processes (reflection/initial engagement/deeper engagement).

We've been working in the google doc using Enspiral's conflict resolution guide as our start point.


Richie Khoo Fri 19 May 2023 2:25AM

I've just come back to this. Love this framing Niki & Jude. I've gone through the google doc and accepted all your suggested changes. These tensions keep coming up in other people le organisations I'm a part of. The focus on sensing into tensions is good. I feel a part missing is convening some 'help' for when conflict arisis so that someone that is not a party to the tensions can pick up a role to 'hold space for a process' to at least begin.