Insight Approach to Conflict

Articulated in 2002, insight mediation emerged from research being done at Carleton University to better understand what was occurring between parties involved in mediation and what the mediator was doing to help the parties work through their conflict.  Since that time, a decade of practice-to-theory and theory-to-practice activities have led to a theoretically articulated method of mediation and a broader understanding of conflict referred to as the insight approach to conflict.

The insight approach to conflict and insight mediation are based on a relational view of the world; a view that sees individuals as connected to each other by cultures, traditions, religions, communities and relationships. The insight approach addresses conflict from the stance that parties need to learn about themselves and the others involved in the conflict if the situation is to be resolved in a positive and lasting way.  The role of the insight mediator is to facilitate this process of learning.

Learning about what matters to us and others, why it matters, and how what matters is being threatened leads to parties becoming less “certain” about each other’s intention of harm.  It is this “uncertainty” that generates the curiosity needed to engage each other in a conversation that leads to collaborative decision-making.  These new insights help parties shift the conflict onto new ground and toward new possibilities for change.  These learning moments represent changes in perspectives and attitudes that break through the established negative patterns of communication thus shifting the direction of parties’ engagement on to new ground that not only makes room for resolution but also for healing and reconciliation.