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Why Host?

As humans, one of our deepest needs is to belong, to feel welcomed, to be treated with dignity and respect. On the surface, conflicts seem to be about power and resources, but so much of conflict is driven by our psychology and our emotions. When excluded, people often feel injured by rejection, humiliation, and disrespect. Those feelings can drive violence in retaliation. 

The only remedy for the wound of exclusion is inclusion. Hosting is the power to create an atmosphere of inclusion and respect as you welcome and connect the parties. There is a sense that no one is left out of the circle. Hosting creates a propitious psychological atmosphere. When all of the parties feel welcomed and included, true work on the conflict can begin. 

To host is perhaps the most basic act of our humanity.  Connecting with and taking care of another in need, perhaps more than any other activity, is what makes us human. 

The surrounding Third Side community can create an inclusive container to embrace all parties. William witnessed how this latent power of the Third Side was activated during a period of intense polarization in Venezuela in 2003. Hosting brings all parties a sense of dignity, and with dignity restored, a triple win scenario is much more likely.

Practice Host

  1. Listen to each side. There is often so little real listening in conflicts. The greatest negotiators listen far more than talk.

  2. Inclusion = DIGNITY. When we create a circle to Include parties and people, we offer the other side dignity and respect, our least costly and most powerful concessions.

  3. Circle Up. The African tradition of Indaba brings everyone in a circle to resolve problems as a community by focusing on common ground and what they all share. Everyone is equal in a circle; there is no pride of place.

  4. Always Consult Before Deciding (ACBD). Engage in a continuous process of consultation and leave the final decision until the end.

Audio Series


In this week’s episode, William takes us to a hot, crammed theater in downtown Caracas, Venezuela, in a moment of extreme polarization. Opposite sides crammed together in a volatile atmosphere. In a testament to the power of hosting, William shares how the third side emerged, finding a shared voice to say no to violence and work for a better path forward through the conflict.



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