The Conflict Manager – Rory Miller


Everyone is a conflict manager. Everyone. Conflict is one of the few stable facts of life. If you interact with people, there will be conflict. People disagree on what needs to be done–Conflict. People agree on what needs to be done but disagree on how to do it– Conflict.

Conflict is something we all handle and it ranges from minor disagreements over restaurants with your significant other to armed conflict between soldiers.

Conflict may be the biggest source of problems in our lives, but it is also the source of opportunity and the greatest spur to personal growth. Humans aren’t just organisms in a sea of chaos and conflict, we are organisms that can thrive there. If we learn to manage the conflict well.

Everyone is a conflict manager, but look around you. Not everyone is good at it. And people who are skilled at handling one type of conflict may be terrible at another. It’s very possible to be a great hostage negotiator but a shitty husband.

A good conflict manager:

• Understands the problem. She understands the types of conflict and can identify and manipulate what she is facing or likely to face.
• Understands the nuances, that a given conflict may have personal, emotional, social, intellectual and physical dimensions that all interact and all can be affected.
• Understands the timeline of conflict and has skills to avoid, prevent, defuse, diffuse, mitigate and recover from conflict and the effects.
• Understands a wide variety of common and uncommon conflict patterns and motivations.
• Understands that conflict management is a learnable skill, not an inborn trait.
• Understands the limits on her skill, training and experience. The best mediator in the world is not the one to teach how to deal with a knife coming at your belly.

A superb conflict manager:

• Thrives under the steep learning curve of conflict and life.
• Doesn’t just manage conflict, but manages it in such a way as to become stronger from every ordeal.
• Can adapt to unknown situations by relying on principles instead of tricks.


Commentary by Erik Kondo

Once you accept the fact that you are a Conflict Manager just from living in society with other people, it now becomes a question of whether you are content to be a Mis-manager. There are many people who believe they shouldn’t have to either learn self-defense concepts or practice risk reduction in any shape or form because “it’s not fair”.

The world is not fair. The universe is not fair. The universe is filled with the constant process of conflict, creation, and destruction. In a world full of human conflict of all shapes and sizes, why have so many people decided that it is acceptable to be a Conflict Mis-manager?

The path to becoming an effective Conflict Manager varies greatly for each person. There is no one true path. There are common concepts and principles that apply to human conflicts in general. But it is up to each person to discover his or her own pathway and ultimate destination while constantly evolving along the way.

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