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Youth Exercise
Subject: Youth Exercise


Youth Exercise


Subject: Youth Exercise Date: 01-10-2004
Author: Mitch Saunders Reply
The following is an exercise I have been doing with youth. I welcome insights, comments, and questions.

Mitch

"Taking The Third Side": A Conflict Resolution Game for Youth

Brief Overview: From January through June of 04 Mitch Saunders and his colleagues tested and refined an application of The Third Side as a framework and educational approach to teach improved conflict resolution and decision making for young teens. To reduce adoption resistance and to increase the appeal of this effort from the perspective of the youth, we called the process a "game." This experiment involved five, 3-hour long sessions facilitated by 2 adults, plus a final session where the students led an experiential 3 hour session for 30 parents and other adults that explored dilemmas facing families.

Although we varied our methods in each session (to learn what worked best), each session provided an opportunity for: - group selection and depiction of a real world dilemma or conflict, - movement to gain a balcony perspective, - simulation of the dynamics associated with their dilemmas and conflicts, - use of the group as a resource to help surface and name perspectives and options, - some way to "step in" to the dynamic to "play" with or "test drive" the options, and - anticipation of relevant future circumstances, including additional stressors that could affect their performance in dynamic, real world conditions, - if time permitted, more "play" or test-driving of options with the addition of stressors, and - structured reflection--lessons learned, and feedback re: the game.

Of all the things we offered, the combination of providing a way for the kids to reframe positions into interests, plus offering a way to help them "see" and discern what might be trying to happen underneath the drama or conflict seemed most helpful. Most of the options they generated (quite naturally) corresponded with Third Side voices/resources (e..g, strategies for prevention, intervention or containment).

Most memorable moment: At the "finale" for adults, one of the parents, a tall, imposing man, found himself stumped by the conflict he faced in a role play, (a simulated breach of trust between himself and his son). His coach, a tiny, 13 year old girl looked up at him and offered, "Come with me to the balcony where we can check this out from a different perspective. Sometimes it's helpful to ask if there's something you could do to prevent this from happening again. Or, sometimes, its important to interrupt, or intervene  to simply stop this arguing...I'll bet it would also help if you could come up with a way to track your progress on this shakey agreement..."