Reflecting on the referendum

By Diane Marr, Network Development Manager

Illustrated drawing of a man feeling sad.

A few weeks ago, I attended Collaborative Scotland’s ‘Day of Dialogue’, an open event to encourage people to reflect on the challenges leading up to the referendum, as well as time to think about the period afterwards: ‘how we live and work together, whatever the outcome’.

For some, the outcome of the referendum has brought about a great sense of loss, disappointment and frustration; for others celebration, elation and relief. Many will have entered into discussion or simply avoided it at all costs! Holding strong views, opinions and values that are different from others can generate division and conflict.

Arguments happen every day with friends and family and, at times, even these can go too far. They escalate and relationships are damaged. In Scotland, sometimes we’re not the best at dealing with conflict, talking about our feelings, listening to each other or respecting differences of opinion.

Within families, for example, you only have to look at the statistics. Around 6,000 young people a year become homeless because of family breakdowns.

We must get better at dealing with conflict and difference of opinion. Post-referendum we have no choice, or we risk being a divided nation. There is a common misconception that somehow ‘Scottish people don’t do talking’. At the Cyrenians’ Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution, we’re all about reducing and resolving family conflict. We also have a valuable contribution to make to the debate about how people move forward. Based on years of experience through our Amber Mediation Service, we offer the following advice to Scotland and its people.


• Try not to put our fellow citizens into boxes
• Learn to talk to each other
• Try to listen, truly listen, to those we disagree with. Only then will we see the person past the opinion

These are the basics of conflict resolution. We hope that by learning to implement these we can start to mend our divisions within families, within friendships and beyond. We will be regularly sharing a more comprehensive list of top tips through our twitter (@SCCRCentre) in the coming days and weeks.

Diane Marr, Network Development Manager

Diane leads on the development, delivery and management of the SCCR and is committed to developing collaborative and supportive relationships to ensure it brings about positive change for families and young people across Scotland. An experienced and qualified mediator, she is also a mediation trainer and assessor.

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