Acknowledge. The ability to reframe conflict can be broken down into individual elements. Understanding each of these elements helps us become proficient in reframing conflict. First, acknowledge that all groups are affected by project issues. No person’s feelings are more, or less, valuable than another’s. It’s important to find ways to redirect your energy and language so that all parties feel heard and not threatened.
Listen and Learn. Once existing social structures are acknowledged and because these structures do indeed affect the engagement process, there needs to be a path to reconciliation for the negative deeds of the past and present. In order to peel back layers of emotion and find the underlying conflict, you must listen intentionally. This is especially important when public meetings can put you in a crunch for time. Good listening skills take practice and effort, so think about how your ability to listen will impact your project and adjust accordingly.
Share a Vision. When reconciliation for negative histories starts to take place, having a shared vision helps to advance the engagement process. Finding common goals and using them to work efficiently and effectively together increases likelihood of success.
Toolkit. It’s often helpful to build a toolkit that can give you communication options and flexibility where and when you need them. A toolkit should provide background details that assist in mutual understanding of a community. Community histories, cultural maps and zone profiles are all tools that can enhance engagement conversations and may even provide unexpected discoveries to all involved in the process. Below are examples of each.
A community workshop provided additional recommendations for the Context. In addition to ensuring that places, people, and themes of importance were addressed, workshop participants steered recommendations to include preserving and protecting community resources; collaborating and building community; educating, interpreting, and creating; influencing policy; remedying losses; building local economies; and cultivating leadership and accountability.