A definition of the role of communication during mediation and negotiation processes has interested social scientists as far back as the earliest reflections by the founding fathers of sociology–first and foremost, Emile Durkheim. Among the principal thinkers who have, over time, considered the management of conflicts, we must mention Sun Tzu and his manual, The Art of War (VI-V century B.C.), Niccolò Machiavelli, as well as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud. Good communication in support of negotiation and mediation makes it possible to transform destructive conflicts into constructive conflicts at all levels and in all settings with an aim toward community building, from the international context to that of business and the most diverse of organizations.By clarifying, legitimizing, and giving value to the needs and interests of all the subjects involved, from the earliest phases of every project, the generative communication approach does not eliminate or avoid conflict: if it’s steered or managed with awareness, if it’s redirected, for example inwardly in a shared project to support innovation development and community building,conflict becomes an irreplaceable part of every process of innovation.
The idea behind this concept is that the great majority of conflicting behaviors are not functional for those who embody them, even sometimes aggressively (Kondrad Lorenz). Communication can generate conditions and contents in order to redirect the energy present in conflicts toward highly productive outlets. Conflicts may come from interpersonal relationships, contrasting interests, structural inequalities or value parameters, or may even be based on various, absent or oppositely interpreted data and information or the expression of different priorities.
The ambassador brings together enemies, divides allies, because he deals with the causes of conflicts and good harmony
Sun Tzu, L’arte della guerra (ca VI secolo a.C.)
In recent decades we have witnessed a critical reinforcement of disintermediation processes which have largely drawn on the rhetoric of horizontal democratizing via the internet and the growth of direct relationships between apex and base.
These processes, present in society as well as individual businesses and institutions, have diminished the fundamental role of mediation and negotiation as prevention and in ongoing conflict. Mediation and negotiation are tools of dialectic planning rather than ex post interventions intended to limit damage or create conditions for unproductive compromise between pre-established interests that reflect a social-economic condition hostile to innovation.
This relentless weakening of intermediate bodies has not had the positive effect of redefining, on a new basis, the fundamental function of intermediation and conflict management and resolution. Instead, the deviation we are witnessing–political, economic, cultural–has led to, in many cases which may be more or less structured, a scarce enrichment of subjects, individuals, and collectives who often have difficulty recognizing themselves in a specific identity or shared planning. They end up feeling frustrated due to a lack of appreciation regarding their enthusiasm and abasement of their creativity.
Every communication project carried out according to the generative paradigm is, by nature, a project that places education at its center. The professional growth of all subjects involved, as well as the growth of their relations with the participating organizations, is always one of the planned objectives.
From a community building point of view, reclaiming and enriching passion and creativity–despite a constant cropping up of conflicts–allows fictitious divisions between communicative processes and horizontal and vertical organizational processes to be overcome and, in general, strengthens all activities of communication.