Peace by Peaceful Conflict Transformation - The Transcend Approach

The Transcend Approach was developed by Norwegian sociologist and peace researcher Johan Galtung, and it has been used in several conflict-affected communities and organizations across the globe. The approach is based on skilled conflict specialists meeting the disputing parties separately rather than jointly, usually in a conversational format. The approach does not involve fighting for positions more amenable to compromise from the other parties.

However, it has been observed that direct contact can make conflicts worse for several reasons, including the frequent use of verbal aggression in verbal exchanges because settling requires accepting some of the Other and the lack of innovation that results from the presence of the Other. The goal of one-on-one conversations is to encourage innovation, create fresh viewpoints, and get the participants to a conflict "ready for the table."

Basic Principles of the Transcend Approach

These are

  • The six fundamental tenets of the Transcend Method are separately derived from Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Daoist, Islamic, and Jewish thought. These include the significance of discussion, considering conflict as a source of both violence and growth, and mutual causality and shared accountability. The Transcend Method's ultimate goal is to facilitate a self-sustaining process that brings parties together.

  • Transcendence entails rethinking the circumstance in a way that makes what formerly appeared incompatible possible and creates a new environment. The secret lies in creativity and how it can be used to contradictions.

  • It is crucial to outline the development of the dispute and include all parties, objectives, and problems, keeping in mind to include any stakeholders who may have been overlooked.

  • Initial discussions are held with each party separately to establish valid objectives and elicit innovative solutions from all parties to overcome incompatibilities.

  • To reach overall goals acceptable to all parties jointly, specific goals acceptable to each party separately should be identified.

Primary Considerations while following the Transcend Approach

The primary tool is a polite, empathic conversation that examines the dispute. The code for conflict or peace workers using the Transcend Method includes the following significant considerations

  • To establish the possibility for ongoing development, identify good aspects of the parties and the conflict. Put more emphasis on shared history and obligations rather than assigning guilt and blame.

  • Be innovative and offer different strategies. Together, come up with a succinct, memorable outcome phrase, such as "sustainable development," that may not fully capture all complexity but will help with communication.

  • The demanding agreement, dedication, or cooperation from parties who are not ready is not appropriate. Similarly, avoid "deforming" the conflict by advancing goals that are too far from the parties' immediate concerns.

  • Avoid manipulation. Keep in mind that the role of the conflict worker is to empower; be open and honest with yourself and others about your goals and feelings.

  • Do not pass judgment. Maintain secrecy and avoid requesting praise or recognition.

  • Keep in mind that conflict resolution is an art of the impossibly difficult, involving both optimism and realism.

Psychological Processes in the Transcend Approach

It includes

Cognitive Expansion and Reframing − This occurs when a simple two-point discussion as status quo vs independence—with utterly incompatible aims yields a more complicated discourse—such as giving the disputed object away or sharing it—with current goals held by no one. Reframing is a psychotherapy technique that involves altering one's point of view or angle on a dispute. It can encourage a change in perspective and result in new thinking and solutions. The term "cognitive expansion" describes expanding one's knowledge and comprehension of a circumstance, challenge, or problem. This examines a situation from various angles and considers new information, concepts, and potential outcomes. Combining cognitive expansion and reframing can help people comprehend situations, challenges, or problems more deeply and develop new, creative solutions.

Creating Cognitive Dissonances and New Consonances − Creating cognitive dissonances and new consonances is a technique for challenging established beliefs, attitudes, and views while promoting personal growth and development. When people have two or more views, attitudes, or values at odds with one another, they are said to be experiencing cognitive dissonance. When someone encounters cognitive dissonance, they are compelled to change their beliefs or attitudes, look for new information, or modify their behaviour to reconcile the conflict. In the transcend approach, establishing cognitive dissonances involves purposefully presenting someone with opposing ideas, beliefs, or attitudes to challenge their preconceived notions and inspire them to think critically. This may result in a greater comprehension of the problem at hand and a change of perspective that enables the person to view things differently.

On the other hand, new consonances integrate opposing beliefs, attitudes, or values into a new, more thorough knowledge to overcome cognitive dissonance. This process produces a unified and consistent set of attitudes and ideas that promote personal development. People can broaden their thinking and acquire new knowledge, abilities, and attitudes that can make their lives more rewarding by coming up with new consonances.

Top-Down Processing for Transcend Approach

These are

  • Individual actors are conditioned by Nature and Culture inside of us and by Nature and Structure outside of us, giving us humans a window of freedom for our spiritual capacity to transcend.

  • There are collective actors like genders and generations, races and classes, countries and nations, regions and civilizations.

  • Actors have goals, among them being basic needs derived from Nature, values from Culture, and interests from Structure.

  • Goals are positively coupled (harmonious, compatible), negatively coupled (disharmonious, incompatible), or decoupled if pursuing one is beneficial, detrimental, or indifferent to pursuing another; harmonious, indifferent goals offer the potential for positive peace.

  • Disharmonious, incompatible, and contradictory goals define conflict; where there is conflict, there may be frustration because pursuing one goal is obstructed by pursuing another goal or goals.

  • of "Self vs Other".

  • Where there is polarization, there may be dehumanization of the Other.

  • Where there is dehumanization, anger may be expressed as aggression, with hatred growing in the inner world of attitudes and violence growing in the outer world of behaviour, reinforcing each other in escalation processes.

  • Where there is trauma, victims may dream of vengeance and revanche, perpetrators may dream of more glory, deposited in Culture and Structure as values and interests, and history as vicious feedback cycles.

  • Where there is trauma, victims may dream of revenge and revanche, and perpetrators may dream of more glory.


The transcend strategy is criticized for not being appropriate for all types of conflicts and requiring a lot of time and effort from all parties. Some may also contend that it does not work when one or more parties cannot participate in introspection and personal development. Those who support the transcend approach contend that it can result in lasting and meaningful resolutions and gives a distinctive and valuable viewpoint on conflict resolution. They contend that the transcend approach can assist people and organizations in transforming conflicts into chances for growth and good change by encouraging self-awareness, empathy, and mutual understanding.