Keys to Effective Conflict Resolution (Pt.5)

Mark McCleary
This submission is number five in the series on conflict and conflict resolution. Its content has been distilled into two parts (I, here and II in the next submission). It would probably be more beneficial to review my previous four submissions before proceeding with this fifth one.


Training has its beginning as early as there was a human need for help to get things done. As conflict studies developed after the 1940’s and conflict resolution theory and practices during the post-1980’s, so the training field has developed during these same time frames, as a discipline evolving from a variety of settings communal and international, such as schools, prison, government, business organizations, and churches (Kreisberg, 2003).

Without an intentional training feature, there is little chance of observing an increase in congregant commitment to and implementation of conflict resolution procedures. This submission will be in two parts that concern conflict resolution training objective and pedagogy (I) and then preparation for training and its evaluation (II).

Conflict resolution training—Objective and pedagogy

According to Keith Allard (2000), the aim of training “is to increase a participant’s skills and motivation” (P. 250). Skills have to do with implementation know-how. Training is intended to help participants put knowledge to use. Effective training seeks to increase how something is viewed as well as its proper use. This thinking is supported by Eileen Babbit (1997) who posits that the “goal of training is to empower local individuals and organizations to take constructive action, and to engender hope that such action will have an impact” (p. 374).

Training is educational because it is a pedagogical tool (Steven & Levi, 2005). This view of training as a tool allows for training to be described as an intervention itself or as “an intervention in a conflict” (Babbit, 1997, P. 365) situation. According to Sue DeWine, training is a “direct delivery of skill to enhance human performance” (DeWine, 2001, P. 23). Such training can be viewed as a form of coaching and consulting aimed at improving ability to apply knowledge effectively. The idea of coaching and consulting emphasizes training as a pedagogical tool that includes two components. One component is conceptual learning and the other is hands-on knowledge. Conceptual learning involves issues of information sharing, trainer and trainee expectations, and intentions. The hands-on component includes methods or how social knowledge is packaged, presented, or delivered and then implemented or put to use (Pruitt & Kim, 2004). Walter and Cookie Stephan (1996) support this analysis by trisecting these two pedagogical components four ways. The conceptual component is first divided by the Stephans as both intellectual and information sharing. Their third way of explaining the conceptual component is attributional training wherein the focus is on the information deficit of participants or what they do not know in order to move them from a state of ignorance to being informed.  The fourth pedagogical way suggested by the Stephans is experiential training and emphasizes the second pedagogical component of hands-on knowledge. According to the Stephans, this might involve an emphasis on participants role-playing the skills to be used in order to help participants improve knowledge know-how (Stephan & Stephan, 1996, pp. 133-139). The importance of these two components of training, conceptual learning and hands-on knowledge, is that training involves both information and its implementation.



Allard, Keith G. (2000). “Anger and Retaliation in Conflict,” In Morton Deutsch and Peter T. Coleman (eds.). The Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice, pp. 236-255. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Babbitt, E. F. (1997). “Toward the resolution of international conflicts,” In I. William Zartman and J. Lewis Rasmussen (eds). Peacemaking in international conflict: Methods and techniques, pp. 365-388. Washington, DC: US Institute of Peace Press.

De Wine, S. (2001). The consultant’s craft: Improving organizational communication. Boston, MA: Bedford and St. Martin’s. Kriesberg, L. (2003). Constructive conflicts: From escalation to resolution.  Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Pruitt, D. and Kim, S. (2004). Social conflict: Escalation, stalemate, and settlement. Boston, MA.: McGraw-Hill. 

Stephan, W. and Stephan, C. (1996). Intergroup relations. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.

Steven, D. and Levi, A. (2005). Introduction to rubrics: An assessment tool to save grading time, convey effective feedback and promote student learning. Sterling, VA: Stylus.

Mark McCleary


Dr. Mark A. McCleary holds both Doctor of Ministry and Doctor of Philosophy degrees, and brings with them a passion for conflict management, church renewal and social justice. Having been born in Baltimore, he recently returned to his hometown to pastor the Liberty SDA Church. He is the author of several books including The Gospel Presentation. You can contact him via Facebook or email.

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