He drew a circle that shut me out— Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle that took him in!

Edwin Markham

From Exclusion to Inclusion

On the surface, conflicts seem to be about power and resources, but so much of conflict is driven by our emotions. When excluded, people often feel injured by rejection, humiliation, and disrespect. Those feelings can drive violence in retaliation. As humans, we all have a deep need to belong, to be consulted about the things that affect us, and to be treated with respect.

The only remedy for healing the wound of exclusion is inclusion and respect. The latent power of the surrounding Third Side community is that it creates an inclusive container to embrace all parties and create a sense of belonging. Inclusion brings all parties a sense of dignity, and with dignity restored, a triple win scenario is much more likely.

Practice Include

  1. Listen to each side. There is often so little real listening in conflicts. The greatest negotiators listen far more than talk.
  2. Inclusion = DIGNITY. When we create a circle to Include parties and people, we offer the other side dignity and respect, our least costly and most powerful concessions.
  3. Circle Up. The African tradition of Indaba brings everyone in a circle to resolve problems as a community by focusing on common ground and what they all share. Everyone is equal in a circle; there is no pride of place.
  4. Always Consult Before Deciding (ACBD). Engage in a continuous process of consultation and leave the final decision until the end.

Audio Story

In this week’s episode, William takes us to a hot, crammed theater in downtown Caracas, Venezuela, in a moment of extreme polarization. Opposite sides crammed together in a volatile atmosphere. William shares how the power of the third side emerged, finding a shared voice to say no to violence and work for a better path forward through the conflict.