Minimizing Conflict

One of the things that can really get an argument going is poor communication. There are numerous reasons underlying the deficiency. One party doesn’t listen to the other. The other doesn’t understand what was said. Both parties are using the same terms but different definitions of the terms. They don’t see eye to eye. They don’t comprehend the values that the other holds which then begins to seem as though they don’t care about the values of the other. This leads to suspicion of motives and distrust. Few healthy things can grow from that type of environment.

A great way to keep a disagreement going for a very long time is to pull others into the audience to watch it unfold as the players interact and to fuel the situation by spreading gossip about the situation (and the other party) and couch the gossip in terms that sound like “truth and fact” rather than opinion and conjecture. Another way to keep things heated up for a long time is to carry tales back and forth to the two protagonists, thereby creating more confusion and building even more dissention and resentment.

Yet another way to not only keep an argument going but create a separate “fire” is to leap into the situation to, like the Purple Avenger, defend one of the parties (1) without knowing all of the facts, and (2) without the request or solicitation of either one, and (3) before either of them has had an opportunity to make a stab at working things out. There’s only one instance I can think of where the Purple Avenger actually works but the color isn’t purple; it’s blue.

Yes, the police will come in and quell things very quickly. Both parties will be sent to their corners while one of the Blue Knights talks with one and the other Knight talks with the other. Then the Knights will put the two stories together, mediate a small amount, and then either leave things in a tense calm or haul someone to a vacation spot for a little while. Stiff, but it’s effective.

There’s counsel from the Bible on how to handle a disagreement.

And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer. Matthew 18:15-17

In other words, discuss the matter privately and calmly. One should listen to the other and make certain they understand the words being used and how they are being used. If that does not help resolve the situation, privately call in one or two others who can assist in working out the communication process and deciphering the meaning of the terms, where the interpretation is going astray in order to correct it. If that doesn’t help, then it is time to take the matter to a higher authority and one who has more power over the situation. If that still doesn’t work, it’s time to go your separate ways. Give respect when you encounter one another but it is no longer necessary to spend more than a minute or so in the company of the other.

There are two more characters who can add to the livelihood of a dispute and worsen conditions not only for the protagonists but also those who are associated with them. The Chartreuse Challengers of envy and greed. While envy is a function of immaturity, greed is essentially a toad, they are exacted upon a conflict in very unique ways.

Although these last two elements seem to have simple solutions, they are quite complex. Their weavings and creating of strife and discord are intricate in pulling in a bit of the truth braided with falsities in suggestions, outright statements, and fallacious logic held out to have integrity. Here, we get into more complicated issues that require more space and time than is reasonable for a blog post. But a few quick examples of envy operating to boil a situation are casting a shadow of doubt on the abilities of the Rival and their constituents in order to discourage association with the Rival. Making statements about the motives of the Rival that have a ring of authority and knowledge when in fact there’s been no investigation at all; the statements are actually opinion colored by green envy. Another example would be characterizing the Rival as a tyrant in some manner so that others avoid association with them and what they offer. Finally, the Rival can be characterized as doing things in a surrepticious manner for illegal gain.

These chargers of confusion do us very little service in the way of building meaningful enterprises that service the public good. In fact, conflict can completely destroy all the benefits that were being established by the most altruistic of endeavors or the most reasoned and well-planned enterprises. But resolving conflict by having clear communication, listening, paraphrasing, clarifying, asking for information in order to comprehend, will build not only one sound and healthy enterprise, but its competitors who have something slightly unique about their brand that may appeal to the market share that simply cannot be served by “the rival.”

What a novel concept. Communication in order to minimize conflict and have better competition!

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