Social dialogue - part 1: the terrible divorce

Human Resources

Peggy - Sociale Dialoog-1.jpeg

At the end of 2018, a new book by AMS professor Peggy De Prins ‘Social Dialogue: opportunity or agony?’ (‘Sociale dialoog: kans of kwelling?’) will be published by ACCO. Leading up to this publication, Peggy uses everyday experiences to reflect on the content of her book.

The terrible divorce

When I met my current husband a long time ago, he was caught up in a terrible divorce. Both ex-partners were vengeful about the future. They contacted lawyers and both developed a war-like language where they would loudly throw insults at each other. Their way of communication was only instrumental, and even hostile.

I observed, listened, and tried to hush them.


"It seems that a mindset of conflict changes people fundamentally."

Looking back on it now, I barely recognize my husband as he was then. The bitter and hostile behavior that he had then never showed up again, fortunately. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think they are two completely different people. It seems that a mindset of conflict changes people fundamentally.

From conflict thinking to sustainable partnership thinking

In social dialogue, and especially in a Belgian context, you see these hostile patterns return. In a conflict model, social partners see each other as enemies instead of social-economic allies. Negative emotions hold the reins. The mindset of conflict turns relationships cold.

"I plead for a partnership model, in which there is no denying that interests may be polar opposites, but we do strive for community and reciprocity."

In the book, I plead for a change from this conflict thinking to a partnership model. A model in which there is no denying that their interests may be polar opposites, but people strive for community and reciprocity.  A model where partners can sustainably take into account each other’s expectations, positions, world, borders and possibilities, on good and on bad days.

I explain how such a change can be made in the book, using 9 specific building blocks. Information on these building blocks will be given in the following blogposts. As there are 9 building blocks, we simulate a pregnancy. You are witnessing the embryo.

Read more blog posts by Peggy!