Plus One" suggests that the alternative dispute resolution
field can expand its boundaries and potency by incorporating
one or more types of coaching. Coaching
is a powerful concept that has roots in this nation's love
of sports. In recent years, coaching has been used to make
sense of a variety of different supportive relationships.
Conflict coaching is one type of coaching relationship.
It can be used in anticipation of an interpersonal conflict
or to make a thorough assessment of a conflict that has
already occurred. Conflict coaching fosters an individual's
clarity for how a conflict shapes.
Temple Universitys campus alternative dispute resolution
organization, the Conflict Education Resource Team (CERT),
developed and implemented a conflict-coaching model in 1996.
The imitative came after CERT recognized that their mediation
services were underutilized by the campus community. Coaching
proved to be a service especially suited to conflict cases
where only one party was seeking CERTs assistance.
The aim of this paper is to help the reader understand the
general appeal of coaching. I will provide an overview of
the basic types of coaching and conflict coaching, explore
the conflict styles model of conflict coaching and identify
some new opportunities for conflict coaching.
While reading this paper, it is important to note the assumptions
that infuse my approach conflict models. These assumptions
may be valuable for those in the role of coach or participant.
My first assumption is that a particular model can be understood
as one of many valid models. This is to say that one model
does not necessarily represent reality better than another
model. Perhaps a more important issue is whether a particular
model is more or less meaningful than another at a particular
point in time. It may be well the case that so-called competing
models are equally meaningful. It may also be the case that
they are too different to make a comparison.
My second assumption is that a models strengths and
weaknesses are related to the system to which it is applied.
A particular model means different things when used by different
people in different contexts. Therefore, strengths and weaknesses
are best assessed by considering specific applications rather
than attempting a universal assessment.
My third assumption is that people live with uncertainty.
The researcher, coach and participant all work without the
benefit of complete information. This means it is wise to
act with humility. It is also wise not to judge too harshly
the past actions of others or ourselves since retrospect
provides a degree of certainty that we rarely, if ever,
experience in the present moment.
My fourth assumption is that despite uncertainty, meaning
and action are important. An uncertain world allows us to
justify either meaninglessness or meaningfulness. Most would
agree that the latter makes for more attractive lives and
relationships. It also makes us more likely to act with
intention. Action is important because it helps construct
the environment we act into. Acting may mean making a leap
and exploring a model even though we might later apply another.
My final assumption is that it is useful to act with curiosity.
Many people find that a curious mindset is helpful for remaining
comfortable with uncertainty and diversity, in various forms.
In addition to understanding my assumptions about conflict
models, I must also provide my assumptions about conflict
itself. The assumptions are as follows: 1) conflicts are
a part of everyday life and have positive potential, 2)
the nonviolent expression of conflict should be generally
encouraged, 3) developing both individual and shared responsibility
for conflict is valuable, 4) voluntary participation in
conflict management is likely to increase the overall success
of the process and 5) a general openness to differences
is helpful in a pluralistic community.
has traditionally referred to the activity of training athletes
or athletic teams. When Americans think of coaching, many
recall famous professional sport coaches from television,
or sport coaches from their childhood and teenage years.
These impressions of coaching are often deeply positive.
For example, mega-star Michael Jordan played basketball
with the Chicago Bulls as long as he did because of the
relationship he had with his coach, Phil Jackson. Prior
to his final year, Jordan insisted that the Bulls keep Jackson
as their coach otherwise he would not play.
People may be connecting with the coaching metaphor, in
part, because of the following associations: the emphasis
is external, the focus is on the future, the relationship
is directed toward goals and success, the player is respected
for his/her strength and the relationship is a highly regarded
The positive impressions associated with coaching make people
want to extend it to non-sporting relationships. There is
coaching for specific communication skills, in which
the focus is on a person's one-on-one skill development
process. Typically, this involves an outside trainer/coach
working with an employee on a single communication skill
such as giving and receiving feedback, using inclusive language,
or speaking more assertively. The coach works with the employee
for a set amount of time to support a pre-specified behavioral
change. Coaching of this type is not necessarily tied to
the possibility of promotion for the employee.
Coaching for managerial development also exists.
A common type of organizational coaching involves an internal
or external coach working to develop a potential managerial
candidate. This form of coaching may focus on a particular
skill but is likely to be broader in scope. Oftentimes,
a supervisor acts as a subordinate's coach. This use of
the word "coach" is sometimes frowned upon because
of the perceived incompatibility between the directing function
of a supervisor and the supporting function of a coach.
Whole life coaching has received attention over the
past few years. There has been a boom in the demand for
coaches who not only support an individual's professional
development but also his/her personal development. The individual
seeking coaching services usually hires these coaches privately.
These coaches, often called personal coaches, tend to meet
weekly with each client, for between half an hour and an
hour, either in person or on the phone.
project of Campus Conflict Resolution
Supported by a FIPSE grant from the US Department of Education
and seed money from the Hewlett Foundation-funded CRInfo
to CMHE Report
(Attn: Bill Warters)
Campus Conflict Resolution Resources Project
Department of Communication
585 Manoogian Hall
Wayne State University
Detroit, MI 48201.
send comments, bug reports, etc. to the Editor.
© 2000-2005 William C. Warters & WSU,
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