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4 Quadrants of Conflict Conditions

These graphics are part of the workshop series Conflict Skills 1 if you're interested in learning more.

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Full Text

Image #1 Description: 4 quadrants, with the horizontal axis measuring from "significant attempts to maintain" to "significant attempts to change" and the vertical axis measuring from "conditions are (or moving toward) life-giving, life-affirming, liberatory" to "conditions are (or moving toward) life-taking, life-threatening, oppressive). In the upper left quadrant is a pink area labeled "no conflict." In the upper right is a teal area labeled "generative conflict." In the bottom right is a yellow area labeled "destructive conflict." In the bottom left is a rust area labeled "atrophy (deterioration)".

Image #2: Generative Conflict. conditions are (or moving toward)

life-giving, life-affirming liberatory. significant attempts to change.

Things are hard, uncomfortable, maybe even hurtful sometimes; but through our attempts to change, our relationships and conditions are becoming more affirming and our needs are closer to being met. Wellbeing is breaking through.

People who hold controlling power, authority, or wealth may be experiencing loss and distress as resources and control are redistributed. As individuals, they are confronted but on the whole their lives and dignity are preserved. Systems are changing or being destroyed and there are growing pains.

The trajectory is toward liberation and thriving.

Image #3: Destructive Conflict. conditions are (or moving toward)

life-taking, life-threatening oppressive. significant attempts to change.

There may be moments of vindication, excitement, and "victory," but conditions are harmful, abusive, and limiting. Coercion, suppression, and violence are used to control and worsen those conditions, people's differences are increasingly villainized. Relationships are laced with indignity and shame.

People who hold power, authority, or wealth are experiencing profit, gain, and increasing power, while those with little are increasingly exploited and constrained. Outbreaks of severe violence are commonplace, as power is fought over. Systems that advance violence are gaining strength.

The trajectory is toward oppression and loss of life.

Image #4: Decay conditions are (or moving toward) life-taking, life-threatening, oppressive. significant attempts to maintain.

Experiences of relief, solace, or comfort are escapist; access to nourishment and fulfillment are deteriorating . Relationships are full of silence, indifference, avoidance, or suppression.

People and systems with power, authority, or wealth use surveillance and threats to maintain conditions as they are; these conditions allow resources to passively move in their direction while other communities' resources "dry up."

The trajectory is toward quiet decay and collapse.

Image #5: No Conflict. conditions are (or moving toward) life-giving, life-affirming

liberatory. significant attempts to maintain.

While there are ups and downs, conditions are consistently healthy and fulfilling. Relationships are full of dignity, respect, and honoring each other's differences.

Power, wealth, and resources are divided in ways that are fair and just; these conditions allow for folks' social and material needs to be met. Significant effort is made to adapt and ensure that these conditions and wellbeing are maintained.

The trajectory continues steadily with thriving, wellbeing, self-determination, and free self-expression.

Image #6: When thinking about where your life conditions, specific relationships, communities, and conflicts are on this quadrant, try to complicate matters.

One person can be experiencing generative conflict, while another experiences decay. One aspect of a relationship or organization may be generative, while others are destructive. These quadrants also exist on a spectrum: you might find yourself generally moving very slowly and slightly in a generative direction as opposed to "all aspects of my life are becoming more liberatory."

If you find yourself identifying with the no conflict quadrant, consider the enormous resources, protection, and community strength it takes to be in that space. Consider how you can bring some of your energies, power, and resources into the generative quadrant for those who are experiencing decay and destruction. Invite conflict as an opportunity.

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