How To See The Resolution Of A Conflict

The art of resolving a conflict can be looked at as a metaphor for a big game of tug of war. You have these four people on one side pulling against three people on the other side. And how does the game of tug of war work? Well, you sit there and you pull as hard as you can and you struggle and you strain and you sweat, and your hands hurt and you get rope burn and eventually one team wins and one team loses. Just like in any kind of conflict. But really what did you win in a tug of war? This winning team let’s say these four ladies on this side win and they pull the other side over. Well, imagine there’s a flag in the middle of this rope. That flag maybe falls two feet in their favor. So what did they really win? Right, not much. They’re not like they’re winning a 10-mile race and what happens is they fall flat on their back. And the losing team falls on their face. So at the end of the war, both teams fall to the ground. You have the expended strain and struggle of an effort of a conflict. And what did you win? Maybe two feet of real estate of that rope.  

That’s exactly what happens in almost any kind of conflict a lawsuit a divorce, everybody loses everybody falls flat on their face. And at the end of the case, you didn’t win that much at all anyway. After you factor in all the work and sweat and effort and rope burden, maybe, you know you bruise your thigh cause you fell on the party behind you. What did you really win? well, how could you resolve this easier? Well if you have this game of tug of war and it wasn’t a game and you really just wanted to have a result, what if both parties could say look instead of us struggling and straining for 10-15 minutes, why don’t we just agree that it’s going to fall one foot in my favor. We won’t struggle, we won’t strain and we’ll all benefit because you won’t sprain your ankle because you fell, you won’t break your glasses because it smashed on the ground and we’ll all walk away happy.

 Now that does require some ego to be dissolved. It does require some facilitation of that process who gets to decide who wins, and who gets to decide who loses? What if you both decide why don’t we just drop the row and let the flag fall in the middle? That way nobody loses anything. And nobody falls down. That’s what mediation does. It comes up with what is perceived by both parties as a mutually beneficial result and it takes the ego and the personalities out of the process. In fact, both parties really want the same thing. They don’t really even really care how far the ball moves they just care that they win. A facilitator-minded mediator can take that equation, out of the conflict. It can take that factor out of the party’s interests. A game of tug of war is a lose-lose if it wasn’t really just a game you play at a picnic, it would be tragic. Because it’s a lot of effort for nothing. Most lawsuits and conflicts are the same thing a lot of effort for nothing. 

By utilizing a good mediator you can find that both people probably have mutual interests probably 90% of the conflicts people share the same outcome. Look, even in a tug of war, the outcome is that both people want this rope to stay in the same place. We want it to not move left right up down. We want it to stay on the same line. We just want a little bit over here. We want a little bit over there. Both parties agree on 90% of what they want. They don’t want the rope to be 10 miles away. They don’t want the rope to be flying through the air. They don’t want the rope to be way over here, you know 10 feet to the left or right. They want 90% of the thing. The only thing they want is maybe one party wants it one foot this way the other one foot that way. So there’s an easy way to see what all the parties want and really if it’s at a picnic all the parties want the game to be over so they can go eat hot dogs. Right. So there’s an easy way to see mutually shared results. And to have that mixed into a mutually shared conclusion. A neutral unbiased third party can help everybody see that for the most part, people want the same thing. And put that in place without anybody having to accept defeat or feel like they’re mistreated by the other party.

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