The idea of creating a community or a group of unified like minded folks is a great idea, but what happens when there is conflict? As long as there are individuals with different worldviews, there will be conflict. Lack of conflict resolution techniques has been the undoing of many communities and it is the most crucial skill to learn if a community is to become successful.

Basic Maturity Is A Pre-requisite
First of all, the members of the community must have a certain level of maturity to begin with. In running a business like University of Metaphysical Sciences I have learned about how important it is to avoid problematic people. The large staff at UMS is a spiritual family, not just an office job, and it is important that we all get along. We have to make sure we pick a good match when adding a new member to the community.

In the beginning, we hired a few people who were not mature enough to work at UMS. They created a lot of problems, brought positive energy down and had chronic negativity. Staff members had counseling sessions with them, we gave them a thousand chances to change their behavior, and we put out lots of therapeutic effort for negative employees who we employed for months, even a year, before finally we had to give up and let them go. Of course, they did not go without a fight because they did not want to leave the spiritual family that was putting out so much unconditional love and energy for them. They had become very attached and did not want to be “voted off the island” so to speak.

We stopped hiring or keeping people with a history for rocking the boat. You can find out a lot about a person on Google, so do some research! If they started to bring everyone else down we let them go sooner than later. No more attempting to counsel them or help them grow up. A basic level of maturity was needed before they qualified for being in the particular spiritual community that is our office.
This does not mean that if someone has a bad day we “vote them off the island,” nor do we expect people to be perfect. That isn’t the case. Of course we are supportive to each other in times of need and challenges, even a new group member in our office. However, we look for patterns of negative behavior and attitude problems that are deeper than just a moody day.

How do you go about finding out about the maturity level of a potential group member? Well, that takes time. Many intentional communities have a trial period. For instance, at University of Metaphysical Sciences we have a pretty good idea if someone is going to work out within the first 2-4 weeks. Then the next level is the 3 month mark. Then there is the 6 month mark, and if no personality meltdowns have happened by then, the person would be “in” at our office. It is typical for Intentional Communities to set timelines for judging whether someone will fit in or not. At the 1 year mark, a community member will get the full stamp of approval by other community members because his or her less-than-perfect sides will have shown up by then and you will know if they are manageable issues within the group.
Don’t be afraid to set time goals in your decision to include a new member. Don’t grant automatic entrance, instant camaraderie, or entitlement. Entrance into a community should be earned, not given without a trial period. That is one of the most important lessons I learned in the beginning stages of my endeavors with the spiritual community that has emerged in our office.

Communication and Compromise
The second necessary ingredient to having a successful community or group endeavor is to have clear communications and a conflict resolution plan. Non-violent communication techniques are well documented and all communities should learn and adopt these methods. For the purposes of this article, I won’t go into the techniques involved since they can easily be found on the internet with a search. However, there is one thing that is most important in non-violent communication approaches. It is the need for everyone to feel heard by others. Sometimes being heard is all that is really necessary for a resolution to be at hand. Of course, there are many instances where practical measures must be taken, but the most healing aspect of all is the ability to communicate in a reasonable manner and hear each other with respect and grace.

Compromise is another requirement for conflict resolution. Compromise is part of life. All parties involved must be willing to compromise and not get their way completely if that is what is needed to solve the issue. All parties must be willing to not hold any grudges, either, even after a resolution is enacted. Sometimes a resolution is undone if there are underlying grudges.

Unconditional Love And The Utopian Community
The Utopian community is what all of us fantasize about, that perfect world where everyone gets along and there is never any conflict—basically, heaven. It could be many generations before mass consciousness can operate at the level where there are no world wars, economic exploitation of others, or crimes against each other. In the meantime, those of us on a spiritual path are creating the possibility for that future by working on peaceful co-existence together right now in these smaller groups. After all, if spiritual people cannot get along, what hope do we have for world peace? It starts with us, and later it will spread to the masses, maybe even governments. Those of us who are attempting these mini communities are in the process of evolving the human species toward that long term goal.

An essential part of a successful community is that we must be allowing of each other’s shortcomings. The human vehicle, with all its idiosyncrasies and dysfunctions on emotional and mental levels, is an imperfect design in the moment. It is still in the process of development, an experiment in physical reality consciousness. Being a human isn’t an easy task! So let’s all take it easy and be patient with each other’s growth processes while supporting and encouraging each other in shifting negative patterns into more positive ones. Patience with each other in this evolutionary endeavor is necessary. We can solve conflicts gracefully while understanding that the human condition isn’t who we really are. Unconditional love is a quality of an evolved person and a community is the perfect vehicle within which to develop that trait.

The communities we create now are the prototypes of the future. Those of us at the forefront of human evolution are setting an example for the masses who follow as we establish the methods for peaceful conflict resolution that may someday be a standard way of living in the world. It is a quantum leap for humankind to find the secret to getting along with each other. The more we explore what it means to get along, the less of a secret it is!

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