Fundamentals Seminar Blog

Constructive Confrontation Initiative Spring 2018 Posts to Date
See Syllabus for additional background posts and planned, future posts (many of which are now accessible).
Other Blogs: MOOS Conflict Frontiers | BI in Context | Colleague Activities
Posts ordered from most recent to earliest.

  • Conflicts and Disputes
    Distinguishing between conflicts and disputes is essential for successful engagement in each.
  • Complex Adaptive Systems
    Successfully working with complex system requires us to challenge many of our assumptions and understand the limits of rational planning.
  • Channels of Communication
    When channels of communication between hostile actors close, risks of destructive conflict raise substantially.
  • Factual Disputes
    An overview of the many kinds of disputes over facts that arise in conflicts--and what to do about them. Although getting worse, this problem isn't new!
  • Misunderstandings
    Even if the misunderstandings do not cause conflict, they can escalate it rapidly once it starts.
  • Interpersonal Communication
    We take it for granted, but so much can go wrong with our communication. In conflict, care is essential!
  • Cognitive Dissonance
    Cognitive dissonance can escalate or de-escalate conflict depending on how it is used.
  • Victimhood
    Victimhood has a dual nature—people can be both ashamed and proud of their victim status at the same time.
  • Delegitimization
    Delegitimization drives escalation and violence—but how is it reversed?
  • Siege Mentality
    North Korea's siege mentality is particularly dangerous as the US is exhibiting a siege mentality too!
  • Ethos of Conflict
    Since the conflict ethos feeds continuation of the conflict, that needs to change for conflicts to be resolved.
  • Psychological Dynamics of Intractable Conflicts
    In intractable conflicts, entire societies can get tangled up in destructive psychological dynamics.
  • Limits of Rationality in Decision Making
    Emotions cannot be ignored in intractable conflicts--they are the elephant that a rider only tenuously controls.
  • Cultural and Worldview Frames
    Worldview frames go a long way in explaining why the US is becoming increasingly polarized.
  • Stereotypes / Characterization Frames
    Genocides start with negative stereotyping--is this where we want to go?
  • Identity Frames
    Identity frames shape who we are...and what we believe and do as well.
  • Competitive and Cooperative Approaches to Conflict
    Self-fulfilling prophecies keep us stuck in destructive conflict styles.
  • Process Frames
    Your process frame is a blinder that lets you see a solution...or forces it away.
  • Humiliation
    Evelin Lindner calls humiliation the "atom bomb of emotions" because it does such profound damage to relationships.
  • Power
    If power were one-dimensional, we could agree who has more and who has less. But we are often surprised at how power struggles come out.
  • Rich / Poor Conflicts
    Conflicts between the rich and the poor are intractable in many contexts.
  • Social Status
    Social status is intrinsically linked with ideas of power, humiliation, dignity and hierarchy--all of which drive conflict.
  • Frames, Framing and Reframing
    Frames determine what we believe is true. When we frame things differently, conflict resolution is a challenge!
  • High-Stakes Distributional Issues
    When conflicts over who gets what really matter--they are high stakes--they drive intractability.
  • Dealing with Extremists
    Violent extremism is one of the most difficult challenges of our time. We MUST design better ways of preventing it.