Wednesday, March 25, 2015

CONFLICT MANAGEMENT – AGONOLOGY versus SATYAGRAHA

CONFLICT MANAGEMENT  –  AGONOLOGY versus SATYAGRAHA

HOW TO DEAL WITH CONFLICT
Ruminations of a Veteran
By
VIKRAM KARVE

CONFLICT RIDDEN ENVIRONMENT

We live in a conflict-ridden environment and we do not know what to do about it.

It seems that we are confused.

There are so many conflicts going on right now.

There are problems with our not-so-friendly neighbours at our borders, especially the frequent skirmishes at the LoC and intrusions and incursions at the LAC.

There are internal security issues  and law and order problems within.

Politicians and political parties are perpetually in a state of conflict with each other.

And there is antagonism and ill-will between sections of society.

There is an environment of rancor and bitterness everywhere.

For example  look at the acrimony between ex-servicemen and “babus” – or for that matter the bad-blood between the uniformed military and the civil services.

In other places too  there is increasing resentment between various cadres of employees and between competing businesses.

There is an increase in “gender conflict” too  at home, at work, and in society  and this gender conflict this leads to hostility and violence against women  at both the domestic and societal levels.

It seems that these conflicts are allowed to fester because we seem confused and do not know how to deal with all these issues.

You cannot neglect the issue and allow conflicts to go on indefinitely in the hope that the conflicts will resolve themselves.

If you adopt this approach  conflicts will aggravate  and things may worsen to such an extent that you will have to pay a heavy price.

Conflicts have to be resolved.

And  in order to resolve conflict  you cannot “look the other way” and be indifferent and hope for the best and wish that the immortal panacea “time” will solve your conflict  or some divine miracle will solve your problems  or someone else will resolve your conflicts for you.

You have to deal with and resolve your own conflicts yourself – you cannot “outsource” conflict resolution because outsourcing conflict resolution may create a even bigger problems than the conflict itself, as history has shown.

How do you resolve conflicts?

Which approach do you adopt?

There are contrasting approaches to resolving conflict – and all these approaches lie in between the two extreme theories of conflict resolution.


CONTRASTING APPROACHES TO CONFLICT MANAGEMENT – THE TWO EXTREMES

The two extreme approaches to resolving conflict are:

1. AGONOLOGY

2. SATYAGRAHA


AGONOLOGY

Agonology employs a strategy of deceit.

The objective is to defeat the opponent by using whatever means  violent and non-violent  which may be expedient.

The cardinal principle of Agonology is to make the opponent’s position as difficult as possible.

Escalate the conflict  especially if it creates more difficulties for your opponent than you.

Strike first at the opponent’s most vital parts.

Attach the opponent frontally and internally.

Make him bleed externally and internally by giving him a “thousand cuts”.

Destroy and degrade his resources  and if possible  subvert his resources and try to use his own resources against him.

Deceive your opponent  never disclose your “true” intentions, motives and tactics.

Commit “irrational” acts from time to time to confuse opponent

Go in for the “kill” at the earliest favourable opportunity.

Push your opponent against the wall  into a tight corner  and leave your opponent with only one way out and that is to surrender to your wishes.

Make your opponent resolve the conflict on your terms without any “give and take” on your part.

This is Agonology in a nutshell.


SATYAGRAHA

Gandhian Satyagraha employs a “truth” strategy.

In this context  “Truth” means a resolution of the conflict without compromising your own cardinal principles, beliefs and values.

The objective of Satyagraha is to achieve an agreement with the opponent acceptable to both sides by engaging him in a search for “truth”  using only nonviolent means.

The basic premise of Satyagraha is to engage your opponent by non-violent means in a search for “truth” which will lead to a mutually favourable solution and amicable resolution of the conflict.

Satyagraha is based on ethical principles.

You never take undue advantage of your opponent’s difficulties.

You try to cool down the conflict  and search for avenues of cooperation on honorable terms  in a spirit of “give and take”.

You protect the opponent’s person and his resources.

You do not take any actions that will make your opponent “lose face”.

You never lie  you never hold anything back  and you keep your opponent informed of your actions.

There is no place for deceit and mendacity in Satyagraha.

You reduce your demands to a minimum consistent with “truth”.

You try your best to extend areas of rationality in searching for a mutually acceptable solution.

You launch direct action only after exhausting all efforts to achieve an honorable settlement  but all your actions are strictly non-violent.


CONFLICT RESOLUTION

Agonology and Satyagraha are two extreme contrasting approaches to resolving conflict.

You cannot swing from one extreme to another as this causes confusion and exacerbates the conflict rather than mitigate it.

For each conflict  you have to formulate a specific conflict resolution strategy

You may  at first  take a middle-of-the-road approach.

If you can resolve the conflict  it is well and good.

Otherwise  you will have to move towards one of the extremities and decide between Agonology and Satyagraha.

So do tell us  for the various intractable “unresolvable” conflicts going on in our present-day scenario  which approach do your suggest – Agonology or Satyagraha? 

VIKRAM KARVE
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All Stories in this Blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the stories are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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Written by me 3 years ago, in 2012, and earlier posted online in my blog at url: 
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