I’ve been involved in some work around conflict resolution lately and I find it very engaging. It has reinforced my practice of “one less thing” as championed by the likes of Harrison Owen. The temptation for a facilitator is to be seen to resolving the conflict when actually I think it’s more about demonstrating a willingness to hold it. I avoid what I call “premature encapsulation” – the effort to tie everything up in a neat bow for participants. I train myself not to panic when people appear to be taking rigid or incompatible positions; these often soften or change with continued engagement. And there’s a lot more going on between people who choose to engage with each other than the explicit statements they make to each other.
So I agree with Dave’s point here about trust being an emergent property of interaction not the precondition. Those discussions about “how we create trust” often end up devoid of any real passion and go nowhere or lead to lists of ideal behaviours that don’t actually inspire any change.
(Actually I think a lot of things we value are emergent from interaction. That’s the pitfall of a lot of training and books that claim to examine success and tell us the success factors. Those success factors are really byproducts of something else, and not the actual building blocks of success.)