Fri | Feb 23, 2018

Conflict Resolution Corner | Shhh ... Confidentiality counts

Published:Sunday | April 9, 2017 | 12:00 AMSandria Watkis-Madden

Welcome to another instalment of the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF) School Intervention Programme (SIP) Conflict Resolution Corner. News last week that a dispute between two boys, 11 and 14 years old, ended with one dead and the other in custody underscores the need for these tips on dealing with conflict, particularly among children.

"In almost every profession - whether it's law or journalism, finance or medicine, academia or running a small business - people rely on confidential communications to do their jobs. We count on the space of trust that confidentiality provides. When someone breaches that trust, we are all worse off for it." - Hillary Clinton

One of the trickiest core values for effective conflict resolution is confidentiality.

This requires that all involved must keep information that is entrusted to them, whether intentionally or unintentionally, private.

Confidentiality is important to conflict resolution because it helps to create or maintain trust and preserve relationship.

If there is a lack of confidentiality a person may withhold sensitive/important information that is necessary for the resolution of a particular conflict. By respecting a person's privacy, a trusting environment is created which encourages the person to be as honest and open as possible while conversing with you.

As important as it is to be confidential, it is also important to note that confidentiality can be breached whenever there is the threat of harm to the person or another individual since our first responsibility is to preserve lives.

Confidentiality can also be breached whenever it is required by law to report certain circumstances. However, as a precautionary measure, advice should be sought on how best to proceed. Confidentiality can also be breached whenever it is required by law to report certain circumstances.


Why is confidentiality necessary for effective conflict resolution?


In order for people to feel comfortable sharing private and revealing information, they need a safe place to express themselves, without fear of that information leaving the room.

The assurance of confidentiality allows persons to feel comfortable sharing their experiences and personal challenges, and creates a safe space for individuals to resolve internal and external conflicts.

If a person is afraid that his/her statements may be used against him/her in the future, then he/she will be less likely to be honest when he/she participates in a conflict resolution session.

Another aspect of confidentiality as it relates to conflict resolution to bear in mind is in the event that something is revealed to you about someone or something, it could affect the person's well-being.

It is your responsibility to act in the best interest of the individual to protect as well as aid in the well-being of the individual.

If what was shared in confidence or what was revealed is released without consent or consideration to the person's feelings one can expect a conflict to ensue. The person's feelings will be hurt, trust will be lost, and relationships will be broken.

Proverbs 17:9 (KJV) He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.

- Sandria Watkis-Madden is a youth peace facilitator/mediator based at the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF), head of the DRF School Intervention Programme in Clarendon. Feedback: or, or,