Session 6 A

Conflict Transformation: A Model for Understanding Our Visitors' Conflict Experience and for Maintaining Ombuds’ Emotional Balance and Neutrality

Time: Wednesday 12:40 PM –1:50 PM

Presenter(s): Kristine Paranica, Ombudsperson North Dakota State University – Learn more about this presenter by visiting the presenter page.

Level: Emerging


This session will give you a theoretical framework to understand the fundamental, human experience of conflict from both a personal perspective and also as applied to the visitor. Conflict can have a debilitating effect on us, leaving us feeling weak, defeated, angry, confused, and emotionally charged. At the same time, we often vilify those we are in conflict with, imputing negative intentions unfairly and impairing our ability to empathize and listen, temporarily. Understanding how and why this happens is critical to developing conflict competence and emotional intelligence within ourselves and also with our visitors. Participants will actively engage in understanding their own experience of conflict in order to better understand the experience of the visitor and therefore enhance their ability to assist visitors who are experiencing the destabilizing emotional, physiological, and mental impacts of conflict. We will explore emotional triggers personally, but also professionally as ombuds, as we too can be reactive to what a visitor is saying or how a visitor is behaving. By increasing our awareness and understanding, we become better able to maintain balance, speak from strength vs. weakness, and maintain both the inner sense and outer appearance of neutrality. Connecting our personal experiences to our professional role will allow participants to be more effective in supporting visitors, as well as to be more effective in our role as we interact with other people in our workplace settings. Techniques and skills from a variety of sources will be offered in this session that work for us as well as visitors and others we come into contact with. Mirroring and reflecting, listening openly, noting changes and shifts, and “sitting in the fire” are some of the skills that can help us and visitors to regain our balance following a conflict experience. The principles of conflict transformation will be introduced as a guide for intervening in others’ conflicts as a third party, and can be a touchstone in situations where we facilitate conversation between people in conflict.

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand the fundamental human experience of conflict as it affects us and our visitors.
  2. Increase conflict competence and emotional intelligence as a precursor to skillfully managing conflict.
  3. Explore guiding principles and critical skills for intervening in others' conflicts.
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