Klimecki, O. M. (2019). The role of empathy and compassion in conflict resolution. Emotion Review, Volume 11(4), 310-325. https://doi.org/10.1177/1754073919838609
Background & Theory
This article overviews the concept that empathy and compassion have a large role to play in resolving conflict, and can be especially helpful among multiple groups involved in conflict.
Klimecki evaluates the following questions in the article:
- What are the differences between the various types of empathy and compassion?
- How do empathy and compassion affect conflict resolution in interpersonal and intergroup relations?
- What means are effective to promote positive conflict resolution?
Klimecki examines the definitions of the various kinds of empathy, compassion, and distress, while also performing a meta-analysis of numerous studies in these areas. She looks into the implications and results of the studies and evaluates what this might mean for empathy and compassion in conflict resolution theory and practice.
The results of her studies show that empathy and compassion do appear to be consistently helpful for not only the individual, but also groups involved in conflict. There are certain limitations on how effective empathy and compassion might be depending on several factors, which promotes the idea of further research in these areas. However, empathy and compassion may lead in many cases to positive and long-lasting peace and desire for reconciliation. How empathy and compassion are encouraged amongst groups can be done through several different means, such as workshops, trainings, or other activities.
What This Means
- Empathy and compassion training/encouragement may assist in resolving conflict where the participants are willing to participate
- The methods used to encourage, motivate or train someone or a group in empathy and compassion vary, so what might work or fail within one group may have different results elsewhere
For consultants: Encourage empathy and compassion amongst clients. Understanding one another is a big step in fostering the empathy and compassion required to possibly move forward toward firm reconciliation.
For everyone: In everyday life or in conflict, seek to understand a new perspective. Sharing empathy or compassion for others, whether they’re your neighbor or a relative you’re fighting with, can be a positive means within your own life to do good to others and resolve any conflicts at hand.