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Disputes: A Clash of Imperfect Ideas

It is common in the midst of conflict that we become more assertive about our perspective – especially when the other person is equally or more assertive about hers or his. One or both of us may push our viewpoints to the extent that things escalate and stronger feelings evolve – accompanied by even more push back. It is as though both of us are convinced and have to convince the other that our view is the perfect and correct one.

The expression ‘a clash of imperfect ideas’ is one I read in the book The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach and it struck me as a great way of viewing conflict. After all, no one idea is perfect and no one of us is perfect. Though we may know that intellectually, conflict often brings out a certain righteousness that explicitly or implicitly says otherwise.

It seems to me that to prevent the unnecessary escalation of conflict, thinking in terms of this reframe – a clash of imperfect ideas – may alleviate the pressure or expectation that there is a right and wrong about the situation and one another – when we are in conflict. Somehow the notion that there doesn’t have to be a perfect idea reduces the energy that goes into fighting for a right and wrong. At least, that is one way of reappraising conflict!

This week’s ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) blog picks up on previous ones relating to this theme and invites you to consider a current dispute in which you and the other person have become polarized in your perspectives.

  • What is the clash about?
  • What is your position on the issues in dispute?
  • What is perfect about your perspective? What is imperfect about it?
  • What is the other person’s position on the issues in dispute?
  • What is perfect about her or his perspective? What is imperfect about it?
  • Which idea(s) do(es) not really work as a mutually agreeable solution?
  • What idea may be a perfect solution for you both?
  • If this last solution is not something that you can live with, what is still clashing for you?
  • What other choices may be acceptable?
  • What has unclashed for you?

What other ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) may you add here?

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