Written for The Jedi Path Academy, reposted with permission.
Conflict resolution needs to be a skill set that every Jedi should be familiar with, and earnestly train to master. Just as there are many ways that conflict can arise, so too are there many ways to resolve it. But the first step we must make when we set to resolve conflict is to ask ourselves, do we negotiate, or do we fight?
Sometimes fighting seems like the natural choice, it is certainly the easier to choose. What is dangerous is when we make the decision to fight without thinking, allowing emotion to rule our actions, where we react rather than respond. This is not to say that fighting does not have its place. There are things that are worth fighting for, however a Jedi must be selective about their battles. We need to practice mindfulness, and be able to see if the path of victory is even possible through the route of conflict. It does not serve us to be guided by our passions when we choose to fight, but rather we need to take a reasoned approach, so that when we fight we do not do so in vain.
The art of negotiation is capable of achieving results that fighting cannot. When we fight, this sets up the dynamic of adversary vs. adversary. However if we approach things as a negotiation, then those in conflict are not enemies, but rather negotiation partners working towards a common goal. If we remove from the equation ideas such as winning and losing, then that opens the pathway for compromise. Compromise is agreement reached by mutual consent, and makes it possible to create a situation where no one has to lose. When there is no chance for compromise among negotiating partners, then maybe perhaps we have a fight on our hands, and if it is a fight that cannot be won by either side, we must recognize the stand off and refuse to engage further.
Negotiations even aggressive negotiations will be a failure when the result is the making of new enemies. There will always be people that disagree with us. Some of these people may even be demonstrably wrong. However it has been my experience that people will form a strong attachment to the feeling of being right, and will hold on to these attachments even in the face of overwhelming evidence. They will seek out confirmation and validation rather than seeking out the sometimes difficult truth. Simply pointing out they are wrong is rarely a successful tactic. Demonstrating they are wrong hardly fares better. The only way for success is to lead them in such a way they discover the correct conclusion themselves.
The obverse to this is that we must remain open to the idea that we ourselves may be mistaken, and may be mistaken about a great many things. Absolute certainty can be blinding. Negotiating in good faith requires the open-mindedness that comes when one is receptive to new knowledge, information and ideas. Only from this place can we be successful negotiators employing empathy for our negotiating partners and being able to see things from a different point of view.
Conflict is part of life. It does us no service to run from it, or avoid it at all costs. With training, one can enter into conflict and resolve it. It will do a Jedi of quality well to have many tools at their disposal for the resolution of conflict. If one has to fight, fight well, and fight with honor, but better still is being able to seek a diplomatic solution where fighting becomes unnecessary.