OTPIC Officially Retired

As of December 2, 2005, the Online Training Program on Intractable Conflict (OTPIC) has been officially retired, and is no longer open to new registrations.

The successor to OTPIC is a course called Dealing Constructively with Intractable Conflicts (DCIC). The new curriculum is built around one of our major projects, Beyond Intractability, and offers a much more extensive and informative set of learning materials than that available through OTPIC.

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International Online Training Program On Intractable Conflict

Conflict Research Consortium, University of Colorado, USA

 

Inflammatory Statements

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Inflammatory statements and personal attacks are two of the most common causes of conflict escalation. When people attack other people verbally, those attacked are likely to get especially defensive or angry-much more than they would have had their opponents kept their statements impersonal and focused on the problem. For example, when people are told they, personally, are at fault for a particular situation, or that they are evil or stupid for believing something or advocating a particular action, the person attacked is likely to respond in a very negative way. They are much more likely to dig in their heels and stand firm, refusing to listen to the other side's arguments or consider making compromises or concessions. They will just reject the other side as unreasonable, and ignore anything they have to say.

When situations are exaggerated or emotional, negative statements are made about the opponent for the purpose of arousing support for one's own cause, the result is likely to intensify for both sides. Those making the inflammatory statements will not only increase support for their own side, they are also likely to increase their opponent's support as well, as people who realize that the statements are an unfair exaggeration will side with the party being accused, rather than the accuser. The result will not be a change in the relative support of one's own group (or in one's power relative to the other side), but rather an overall escalation of the conflict, which will make it more difficult for both sides to get what they need.

 

Links to Examples of This Problem:

Dean Peachy Thoughts on the Failure of Negotiations in the Gulf
In this essay, Dean Peachy asserts that the personalization of the problem on both sides made negotiations impossible and left force as the only option available.
Tom Sebok - Lessons from Mediation: An Examination of disputant Behaviors During Mediation and Their Possible Application to Seemingly Intractable Conflicts
In this paper Sebok reflects on years of mediating interpersonal disputes. He lists a variety of things disputants do and say that tend to block agreement, and things that they do or say that contributes to an agreement. While he acknowledges that intractable conflicts are more challenging that the typical kinds of disputes he deals with in the ombuds office, he suggests that similar kinds of problems can make intractable conflicts worse, and similar solutions might make them more constructive.

Links to Outside Sources of Information on This Problem:

US Institute of Peace--Balkan Religious Leaders Support Minority Rights

 

Links to Possible Treatments of this Problem:

Principled Negotiation

Stereotype-breaking actions

Ground Rules

Respectful Communication

Shuttle Diplomacy/Mediated Communication

 

Links to Related Problems:

Inaccurate and Overly Hostile Stereotypes

Dehumanization

Outgroup/Enemy Image

Emotions

Inflammatory Media


Copyright 1998 Conflict Research Consortium  -- Contact: crc@colorado.edu