The Quaker Approach to Conflict and the Use of Silence

My friend Kathryn is a Quaker and reacted to reading my post on Apache Silence on this blog by commenting on the Quaker use of silence which I find very interesting. Thanks Kathryn: 

Per silence and listening, these are central to Quaker process in conflict resolution. We DO have conflicts within our own meeting, sometimes severe ones, with factions considering leaving the meeting over an issue.

It has long been part of Quaker process for us all to sit in a circle, for each person to speak, not in turn, but as so moved to do so, but only once, and then not to interrupt others as they have their say.

Between the personal expressions, there is silence… waiting. This is an important part of making the most of communication, as the silence allows for reflection on what the LAST person just said (it is not about preparing a rebuttal).

When we are in gridlock, unable to find what we call “clearness” (somewhat related to consensus, but different, a more difficult concept to explain), then we will “hold the conflict.”

This means, “Ok, we still disagree. But we will agree not to talk with each other about it for awhile. We will let it sit. And then we commit to discussing again at a later date.”
So time has very different kind of sense among Quakers than in the world, I think. It slows down. We have all the time in the world.”

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About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Processes, PERSONAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION: CREATIVE STRATEGIES, Philosophy of Conflict, Religious Conflict, Ways to handle conflict and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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