Syllabus 3

Marvin Garbeh Davis posted 1 year ago, 1 Responses
Task 1 Please watch a general news report, state its name, and answer the following questions in a highly critical way:
Who created this report?
Is this report of an unbiased nature?
Which part of the conflict do we witness?
Where might the core conflict have its origin?
ON JANUARY 20, 2017, Donald Trump stood on the steps of the Capitol, raised his right hand, and solemnly swore to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and, to the best of his ability, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. He has not kept that promise.
The Atlantic is an American magazine, founded in 1857 as The Atlantic Monthly in Boston, Massachusetts. Since 2006, the magazine is based in Washington, D.C. Created as a literary and cultural commentary magazine, it has grown to achieve a national reputation as a high-quality review organ with a moderate worldview. The periodical has won more National Magazine Awards than any other monthly magazine. The current editor is Jeffrey Goldberg and the publisher is Hayley Romer.
Funded by / Ownership
On July 28, 2017, Emerson Collective became the majority owner of The Atlantic, purchasing the majority stake from Atlantic Media‘s David G. Bradley. The outlet’s owned by Emerson Collective include The Atlantic magazine and its digital properties along with its standout events line and Atlantic Media Strategies. The Washington Post reports Emerson Collective plans to move to full ownership of The Atlantic in “three to five years” after their 2017 investment. The Atlantic is funded through a subscription and advertising model.
Analysis / Bias
Both The Atlantic Magazine and web publication produce quality journalism that utilizes moderately loaded wording that typically favors the left: This Is the Moment of Truth for Republicans. All news stories on The Atlantic are properly sourced to factual information and usually present a reasonable balance on issues. Editorially, The Atlantic takes a Left-Center position on most issues and has  long  endorsed Democratic candidates.
The report was created/written by Yoni Appelbaum and published by the Atlantic Newspaper. The report is not unbiased fundamentally and there are a few reasons for this. 
The Atlantic belong to a group of media sources that have a slight to moderate liberal bias.  They often publish factual information that utilizes loaded words (wording that attempts to influence an audience by using appeal to emotion or stereotypes) to favor liberal causes.  These sources are generally trustworthy for information, but may require further investigation.
The part of the conflict that I witnessed is the fact that writer does not begin his story in the moment, in the present but set a historical tone. This style of writing confirms that the writer brain works in the past; he remembers the purpose of the presidency but fails to say what other things Donald Trump has done for America or analyze the environment in which the President works. He concludes in the starting paragraph that the President has failed.  Besides, the part of the conflict I also see is that the writer is attacking Donald Trump, stating his failures as a leader.
The conflict has its origin in foundation of the Atlantic Newspaper. Both The Atlantic Magazine and web publication produce quality journalism that utilizes moderately loaded wording that typically favors the left: This news story could be construed by a Republican as a moment of truth. All news stories on The Atlantic are properly sourced to factual information and usually present a reasonable balance on issues. Editorially, The Atlantic takes a Left-Center position on most issues and has  long  endorsed Democratic candidates.  To me this is the source of the conflict.

Task 2 Name two essential and most powerful motivations for personal/and international conflict
Two of the most powerful motivations which are causes for personal or international conflicts are: Unmet Expectations and Values
When our expectations are not met there is a sense of “all is not right in the world”. There is a sense of frustration and/or a feeling of being disrespected or disregarded.
We are constantly living our lives, in a state of expectations. We have minute to minute expectations from people, from our jobs, from our environment, from friends, from our creative pursuits, from our own body and mind, our health, money.... etc. This is a normal human behavior.  The Buddha said \"The root cause of suffering is attachment\" Attachment also means desire, expectations, our dreams, our needs and wants. If we did not have any attachment to anyone or anything on this earth, if we did not have a single expectation from our day to day life, we would obviously have nothing to be unhappy about, we would have nothing to complain about or feel bad about.

Value conflicts are caused by perceived or actual incompatible belief systems. Values are beliefs that people use to give meaning to their lives. Values explain what is \"good\" or \"bad,\" \"right\" or \"wrong,\" \"just\" or \"unjust. Value conflicts occur when we become positional and demand that someone behaves in a manner that is in line with our values, but are contrary to their values.
Buddhism teaches that morality is something we create for ourselves based purely on what is found to be beneficial rather than objectively right or good. There can be no standard outside ourselves and no one to hold us to it. As Buddhist scholar and activist Thich Nhat Hanh says:
\"Right and wrong are neither moral judgments nor arbitrary standards from outside. Through our own awareness, we discover what is beneficial (\"right\") and what is unbeneficial (\"wrong\").\" 
The Society for the Promotion of Buddhism agrees when it states:
\"There is no discrimination between right and wrong, but people make a distinction for their own convenience\"
Let us reflect, for instance, the way people in my country behave when they compete at a bus station to get into a bus. There are so few buses that people have to compete to get a seat in the bus. A certain condition has been created. People do not care for the elderly and the weak; it becomes a matter of survival of the fittest. People may speak about concern for the weak and elderly as virtues, but despite the preaching about morality and higher values, people’s behavior depends on the material conditions that prevail in society. The fact that there are less cars or the untimely availability of transportation is the material condition that one has to deal with. As a result of this condition, people who even value that we should take care of our elderly are the very ones who will not give an elderly person chance to get a seat on the bus. A value then is nothing if the inwardly value is not present in the outward action. The question then is how can we live up to our value system when certain material conditions in society work against our efforts to follow that value system?
I think this question is also related to a certain attitude which has developed along with the belief in mechanical ways of changing human behavior. It has been so much built into the minds of people that we fail to take cognizance of the fact that we can change ourselves inwardly.
What Buddhism maintains is that we are capable of bringing about a change inwardly. One cannot change all the factors in the outside world in accordance with one’s own desires and wants, for the external determinants are too numerous and diverse. People have various psychological tendencies such as jealousy, miserliness and competitiveness. These psychological tendencies are responsible for the breakdown of social morality. However, Buddhism believes that these psychological tendencies triggered off by the material conditions of life, can be changed inwardly. They can be changed if we understand our own nature through mindfulness, concentration and wisdom. If we develop our inner selves, we can overcome the outside influences. That is why Buddhism maintains that we can live happily in this world even amidst people who are unhappy. 

Task 3 Hot, Cold and Mix Conflict

Hot Conflict: This is when one or both of the arguing parties outwardly express their strong emotions by raising their voices, shouting, using damaging language, or acting in a way that shows they are not in control of their emotions.

Cold conflict: This is when one or both of the arguing parties suppress their emotions by muttering under their breath, pursing their lips, refusing to speak up, or using a passive aggressive tone of voice.

The ideal temperature for conflict resolution is warm.

After taking the temperature of the situation, work on ways to raise the temperature of a cold conflict and lower it for a hot one.

Hot conflict: In order to lower the temperature, set the ground rules before bringing the people together into the same room so you can manage the emotions. For example, choose a question that each person needs to answer within 3 minutes. This allows each person to have their voice heard, but it minimizes the negative language.

Cold conflict: In order to raise the temperature, gather the people together and promote constructive dialogue and discussion. For example, have the parties stage a debate about their perspectives. This allows each person to share their feelings without a personal involvement in the issue.

In both types of conflict, remember that the goals are to bridge the gap and innovate. The top priority is bridging, which brings participants closer together and restores a trusting relationship. As opposed to a compromise, which leaves both parties unhappy, innovating is creating a new solution that brings together both viewpoints. 
I was part of the team set up to mediate between two of our employees recently. The conflict was hot. The two employees engage in a violent war of words. It involved screaming, exchanges of foul language and shouting. One of the employees had credited some money from his colleague and he could not pay as promised
My initial action was to find out the source of the conflict and during private conversations, I found out that the disputants that the root cause of the conflict was not even about the money. It was how they were raised. One belong to the Bassa tribe and the other to the Kpelle tribe, both ethnic groups in Liberia. 
In Liberia, Kpelle people are generally thought to be stupid and Bassa people are known for enjoying their lives even when they are in difficult conditions. 
The reason why the Kpelle man (creditor) was upset was that if he did not stand up the Bassa man would think that he is a stupid man since in fact he is Kpelle.  Worse, he believed that the Bassa man did not want to pay him because he was planning to enjoy himself (food, drinks etc.) that is why he didn’t want to pay him especially that Independence Day Celebrations was around the corner.
So the root cause of the conflict was based on conditioned assumptions. Basically all human beings have acted or behaved stupidly at one point in time in their lives.  And every human loves to enjoy, it doesn’t matter if you are white or black or Bassa. Perceptions, assumptions and human conditioning can be at the heart of conflict. 
It is important to analyze or get to the root cause (s) because without understanding the root causes it might be difficult to resolve the conflict or find a lasting peaceful outcome. 

Task 3
Please reflect and create a list of how such emphatic soft skills could look like

One of the challenges every mediator faces is how best to address the role of emotion in a mediation. It takes a great deal of courage for a party to mediation to express their emotions (be they anger, fear, doubt, insecurity), and the way a mediator addresses these emotions can play an enormous role in the successful resolution of a conflict. Emotions underpin so many aspects of a conflict. As such a Mediator is derelict in their role if they ignore the emotions and feelings of the parties. 
 The extent to which a mediator deals with these emotions is circumstantial, and much depends on the mediator’s ability to read the emotional needs of the participants. mediator over-empathizes with the emotional concerns of one party, they leave themselves open to allegations of bias and partiality. If they under-identify with the emotions being expressed by a party, that party may feel that they have not been heard or understood, and this lack of catharsis may hinder productive negotiation. Emotion is important in mediation because it drives conflict. To this end, a mediator needs to address the emotions that arise during a mediation to help facilitate a resolution of the dispute. Whether we conceive emotion simply as one dimension of conflict or central to the idea of conflict its role in shaping a mediation is often pronounced. 
In broad terms, mediators can contribute to an emotional environment for the parties by contributing a trustworthy person and process, and by otherwise providing a setting that is hospitable and non-threatening. To improve the emotional environment of a mediation, the mediator must develop and inspire the confidence and trust of the parties involved.

Whilst a neutral and well-communicated structural framework to the mediation can increase the parties’ confidence in the process, an emotional connection between the mediator and each party can instill faith and trust in the mediator as a person. The way a mediator manages this emotional connection is one of the most important drivers of a successful mediation. When skillfully managed, the establishment of an emotional connection with the parties can lead to a productive empathic bond that fosters trust and openness. When mismanaged, a mediator can emotionally under or over-commit to a party, leading to impressions of partiality and potential compromise of process (that is, non-neutral language, uneven speaking time for parties, biased intervention strategies). 
Empathy then is crucial to mediation. A mediator empathy is the ability of the mediator to put themselves ‘in the shoes of another, to understand things from their perspective.’ If a mediator is able to understand the needs of a party that underlie their dispute, they can then accurately communicate back to the party that their feelings have been heard and understood. They can successfully attend to their emotional needs. When a mediator establishes an empathic bond with a party, it does not mean however that the mediator consequently supports or favors that party. Empathy does not signify agreement, nor does it amount to sympathy with, or compassion for, another. It involves convincing a person that the listener has entered their world of perceptions, if only temporarily. 
It is only through strong emotional self-awareness and self-regulation that mediator empathy can possibly co-exist with party perceptions of impartiality
Arnold Bennett, the British novelist and playwright once stated, ‘There can be no knowledge without emotion. We may be aware of a truth, yet until we have felt its force, it is not ours. To the cognition of the brain must be added the experience of the soul.’ To mediate in the absence of emotion is to fall afoul of this advice. If a mediation settlement or agreement is going to ‘stick’, a mediator needs to have addressed the emotional concerns that underpinned the dispute. Parties to a mediation must be happy in heart and mind that they have been heard and understood. Ultimately, a dispute belongs to the parties of a mediation and ‘the choice of ending it belongs to them too. Whilst the intersubjective nature of any mediation will see the mediator and parties mutually influence each other, a mediator must rely upon their own emotional self-awareness and emotional self-regulation to maximize the contribution of the parties to their own solutions.

Dear Marvin,

thank you for this reflective work. I guess you totally understood the power and need of critical thinking. By the way, I love this statement: ‘The ideal temperature for conflict resolution is warm.’

BR, Daniel