Convening is the first stage in conflict intervention. Its role, as the name implies, is to bring disputants to a preliminary meeting where they will discuss the issues of a conflict and consider options for its resolution. Its goal is to pave the way for an actual conflict resolution process such as mediation, negotiation, or consensus building.
For my first five years of teaching middle school, many of my units involved debates. Students loved them. They were actively engaged and enthusiastic about their roles. After studying conflict resolution, I realized that debates reinforce unproductive communication habits. Negotiations and simulations, designed to teach cooperation, demand that students demonstrate flexibility, critical thinking, empathic listening, clear speaking, and creativity.
Reality testing involves “techniques used to adjust perceptions that do not conform to the realities of the situation.” In conflict resolution, it is a process that may be helpful when negotiations breakdown. Sometimes, a party to a negotiation will think they have an alternative or option that is better than what they will get through negotiation.
Consensus building (also known as collaborative problem solving or collaboration) is a conflict-resolution process used mainly to settle complex, multiparty disputes. Since the 1980s, it has become widely used in the environmental and public policy arena in the United States, but is useful whenever multiple parties are involved in a complex dispute or conflict.
Option identification is an essential step in the process of resolving any conflict, including seemingly intractable situations. In a conflict resolution scenario, once all parties to the conflict have identified the issues under contention, they should systematically list ALL options that they see available to them for advancing their interests.