Conflict Circles


Any conflict carries with it a unique set of stories. First is the “story” of what really happened—”Just the facts, ma’am.” Then there are the “stories” of each individual who might be involved. The personal, individual stories are based in interpretations, experiences, emotions, and understandings, and may vary widely across those engaged in the conflict.

One very useful tool for resolving conflicts comes to us from the Landmark Forum. As a model, the conflict circles help us to see that there are multiple stories about any given event or issues. As a method, the conflict circles open a process where participants reflect on and document the existing stories from their own perspectives—what really happened in fact and each individual’s personal story about what really happened. When we compare our personal stories, we often find different interpretations cause the conflict, more than the event itself. In any conflict, each individual is more likely to believe and live out his or her own interpretation, without questioning or exploring other possible reasons for observed behavior.

Unbraiding the conflict in this way allows those who are involved to sort out the facts and find long-term resolution.