Building Community & Embracing Diversity

The Art of Compassionate Communication

Facilitation Skills: Decision Making & Conflict Resolution

Personal Empowerment & Leadership Skills

Celebrating Life:
Art & Creativity

Local, Bioregional & Global Outreach


2b. Facilitation Skills: Decision Making and Conflict Resolution
The Art of Facilitation How to Make Good Decisions Understanding and Learning from Conflict

Types of Conflict

In the end, all conflicts refer to people. As Mindell says, “behind the world’s most difficult problems are people – groups of people who don’t get along together”. But interpersonal conflict is in many cases the external manifestation of something that goes on underneath: We can be projecting our own inner conflicts as if others were causing them, we can be unconsciously reacting to the tense dynamic of the group field, or we can be suffering from oppressive structures we are not aware of.

The first step to deal with conflict is to know what really causes it, instead of falling quickly to blame the first person we come across. The following table, based on Integral Theory, gives us a general overview of the different types of conflicts and what causes them.





Inner conflict

  • Strong feelings of guilt, or resentment with ourselves
  • Anxiety, fear and other negative feelings when exploring our own limits
  • Little clarity about what we really value or need

Interpersonal conflict

  • Perceiving differences as a threat to our needs
  • Poor communication skills
  • High combustibility: showing strong emotions of anger, rage or annoyance


Cultural conflict

  • Communication style reflecting cultural aggressiveness and violence
  • Unconscious use of prejudices, stereotypes and other violent cultural values
  • Binary thinking coupled to a competitive attitude: “I am right, you are wrong”
  • Power abuses due to rank differences

Structural conflict (in groups)

  • Lack of a common vision
  • Exhausting, divisive or unproductive meetings
  • Lack of crucial information
  • Different interpretation of verbal agreements
  • No processes for accountability
  • No membership criteria or new-member screening process
  • No processes to handle emotions