Handling Conflict

Committee on Healing and Reconciliation – Review of Steps in Handling Conflict

When a complaint or reported conflict arises, the Healing and Reconciliation (H&R) Committee should be involved and respond promptly. The H&R committee should generally follow a prescribed procedure, including the following elements or steps. When a situation arises that in the judgment of the H&R committee requires a different procedure, these steps may be adjusted as appropriate.

General Procedure for when a complaint is expressed to an H&R committee member:

* If expression is oral, repeat it back so there is no doubt about what the person is saying.

* Secure agreement to use names within the H&R committee; there are no anonymous reports. Confidentiality regarding persons outside the H&R committee shall be maintained.

o If a person insists on maintaining anonymity even for H&R committee members, the complaint will not be considered.

* Help the complainant to convert issues to a positive statement as much as possible; what solution or proposal would the complainant make that would be a satisfactory resolution of the issue for him or her?

* Focus on individuals with responsibility to the extent possible and not on groups.

* Explain the general process of working with the H&R committee (expect prompt response, working directly with one or two H&R committee members, expectation that complainant will work with support from the H&R committee within a redemptive framework and directly with the person(s) deemed responsible)

General Guidelines and Process for Handling Conflict:

* The H&R committee will conduct its procedures consistent with Star Island policies regarding sexual harassment and discrimination/non-sexual harassment.

* The H&R committee is not responsible to provide the solution. Triangulation must be avoided: The H&R committee must not be in the middle between the principals to the issue. Instead, the H&R committee is a facilitator to assist and encourage the principals to achieve a satisfactory result.

* Actions should seek reconciliation and a positive, redemptive result, not a win/lose choice.

* Response from the H&R committee should be prompt; do not let the issue fester and develop before acknowledgement of the issue and some initial steps toward reconciliation. It may not always be possible to secure a prompt resolution from other agents of the conference, depending on the issue, however the process must be initiated, monitored, and principles of conflict resolution applied and communicated.

* Complainant should be encouraged to address the issue with the person deemed responsible if appropriate. A H&R committee member may accompany the complainant if desired. All outcomes, even if a resolution occurs, should be communicated back to the H&R committee.

* As discussions proceed, the H&R committee should follow-up as appropriate to assist in a successful resolution, but the success or lack of success is not a judgment on the process or on the H&R committee.

* When apparent resolution is achieved, the H&R committee member(s) involved in a specific issue should specifically follow-up with the complainant and/or persons in conflict to confirm resolution and bring closure to H&R committee’s involvement.

* If the original complainant is not willing to follow this process and continues to discuss the issue in a way that is harmful to the conference, the complainant may be asked to meet with the H&R committee and with the chair of the executive committee, or some other appropriate leadership body.

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