“It's a terrible and dangerous arrogance to believe that you alone are right: have a magical eye which sees the truth and that others cannot be right if they disagree."
Traditional conflict resolution has aimed to create the conditions for trust building and the search for common ground. Experience has taught us that this may not always be possible and it is more realistic not to seek to change minds, but rather to establish areas of potential mutual self-interest.
Oxford Process’ work is driven by its methodology of managing radically different points of view:
1. Starting where people are, and not where we want them to be.
This involves mapping the positions and interests of all parties in the conflict system and identifying openings for engagement.
Such a careful approach can be problematic for Track I actors; where national interests, complex constituencies and strategic inhibitions are at play.
2. Addressing issues of identity and core values.
This stage examines how parties to the conflict identify themselves. It explores the psychology of conflict; exploring how history and experiences have shaped their positions. In doing so, it identifies parties’ core values.
Such a psychologically driven approach enables traumas to be recognised. It breaks-down the assumption that trust-building will be possible.
3. Identifying areas of potential strategic agreement.
By establishing areas of mutual self-interest, this stage helps parties elevate their thinking to a strategic rational approach.
This is a welcome move away from the oft unrealistic search for how to change parties’ minds.