White Papers

Moving From Conflict to Collaboration

Ashok Pannikar
January 2004

“Why can’t we all just get along?” asked Rodney King famously, echoing the sentiments of many of us who have at some point or another wondered about the seeming intractability of human conflict. While issues of race, ethnicity, religion, class, sexual orientation, and gender can lead to strife at home, in the community, and on a national and global scale, thankfully we, sometimes, find ways to navigate and negotiate through these otherwise daunting differences.

However when we don’t it can lead to the kind of violence and chaos that we witness in various parts of the world today. Similarly, in organizations we often disagree with our coworkers based on our different roles, perspectives, or styles. Despite this truth, however, in the normal course of doing business, we generally tend to reach mutually agreeable, and often creative solutions without coming to literal or figurative blows. We don’t always do so based on a deep understanding of the complexities involved.

Neither do we always arrive at agreements that are either sustainable or entirely satisfying to both parties. Nevertheless, daily life would be intolerable, and our organizations would grind to a halt, if we were unable to compromise well enough to coexist with each other and function in a state of relative tolerance and truce.