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

Story Telling

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Storytelling is useful in conflict management and resolution processes in many ways. By telling stories, parties can define for themselves what a conflict is about, and what their real interests and concerns are. By telling stories, they can explore their inner feelings, their wishes and fears, by delving into conflict situations more deeply than is traditionally done. They can also make up stories about alternative approaches to problem solving or resolution.  Thus story-telling can act similarly to brainstorming, letting people explore different options and predict various outcomes.

Storytelling is also useful in dialogue processes, as it allows people to get to know each other better, and to understand why people on the other side in a conflict situation feel the way that do. By listening to the opponent's story, people will often say to themselves, "oh, I understand, that has happened to me too," or "yes, I can see how that would have made you feel the way it did." It makes people's beliefs and their abstract ideas have more reality, or validity, than they otherwise might have.

Although it is used to a lesser extent than in dialogue processes, story-telling can also be useful in mediation processes. When a mediator begins by asking the parties to explain the situation for their own point of view, they are actually asking them to "tell their story." Depending on how the mediator facilitates the storytelling, the process might be very similar to the dialogue process, or much more abbreviated. Either way, storytelling is used as a way of opening people up, both to talk and to listen and to pave the way for improved communication and understanding.


Links to Examples of the Use of Storytelling.

Earl Martin -- Once Upon a Conflict ..
This short essay discusses the uses of storytelling in conflict resolution.
Virgil Peterson -- The Rabbi's Resolution and the Power of Stories
This article talks about the way a Rabbi used storytelling to place two families' conflict in a larger perspective, allowing them to resolve it successfully.
Cobb, Sara. "Empowerment and Mediation: A Narrative Perspective"
Cobb investigates and critiques current concepts of empowerment, and current mediation practices designed to empower parties. She then suggests a narrative understanding of empowerment, and describes several mediation practices which follow from the narrative approach.


Links to Related Approaches

Establish Personal Relationships

Dialogue Projects


Transformative Mediation

Finding Commonality

Conflict Mapping


Links to Related Problems

Communication Problems

Framing Problems

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