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close this bookCommunity Participation in Problem-Solving: Managing Conflict (UN Habitat - United Nations Centre for Human Settlements )
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentGuidelines for the trainer
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentA statement of principles
View the document1. The sources of conflict
View the documentII. Styles of conflict-management
View the documentIII. Choosing a style
View the documentIV. Practising assertiveness and co-operation
View the documentV. Exercises in handling conflict
View the documentBibliography


"When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the fire department usually uses water"

S.I. Hayakawa

Problem-situations are conflict situations. Decisions are conflicts. Problem-solving and decision-making are processes of managing the kinds of conflict that occur whenever there is a choice to be made between alternatives. The first two manuals in this set on Community Participation in Problem-solving and Decision-making have presented certain procedures and techniques for encouraging group interactions in problem management that are rational and cooperative. The eight-step problem-solving cycle, described in the manual on Basic Principles, assumes a logical and systematic approach to analysing information; the techniques for leading groups in problem-solving activities, to be found in the second manual, depend on a harmonious and supportive atmosphere. However, what can so easily and so often frustrate this rational, collaborative process is the existence, in the group or in the community, of conflicts - sharp differences of motives, values or goals.

Conflicts happen when someone thinks that someone else is about to frustrate his needs or concerns. Given the potentials for real or imagined frustration of needs or concerns in the planning and execution of housing projects, conflicts will inevitably and frequently occur. The objectives of this manual are to explore the kinds of conflict that arise in settlement-improvement schemes and to consider whether there are conflict-management strategies that harmonize with the problem-management strategies so far recommended.

In other words: what are the ways of fighting fire with water rather than with fire?