I insisted I was right. My 6 year daughter was sure I was wrong. Her school book was lost and she was very upset. I was sure I had packed it into her bag the previous night and she was sure that i hadn’t. It wasn’t there when we looked in the morning. It was uncharacteristic of her to get so vehement. She rebelled and cried. It was uncharacteristic of me to take such a strong stand. I fought back. I wanted her to learn to take responsibility for her own things.
She ended up crying for half and hour and I ended up ruining my mood and feeling quite crappy. And what was the reality? I had actually packed the book the previous night, but I put the book in the wrong child’s bag! We were both right, and we were both wrong.
You and I argue. We debate. We put out facts. We have counter points. We go back to history. We refer economics and psychology. And what happens? As you make your point stronger, I raise the wall of defence around me even higher. I harden my stand. And vice versa. What actually ends up happening is that we have moved even further apart from each other than where we started from.
Rarely does it happen that a debate resolves a problem and gets people closer together. What happens is that one side wins and one side loses. The winner gloats, and the loser goes back to gather their armies only to return another day for an even bigger fight.
I admit that I have been a part of this. I have fallen prey to attempting the win the debate. I have behaved uncharacteristic of myself. I have ranted and raved. I made desperate attempts to win.
But no one ever wins.
Somewhere within me, the wisdom of what is actually needed has always existed. The problem is not going to be solved by debate and data alone. It is going to be solved by a combination of the following,
One - having a dialogue to discover and agree on what is our common goal - in this case it was to find the book and the make sure that we reach school in time
Two - to be willing to acknowledge each other feelings - I feel accused and she felt that she was uncared for - and then to clarify that those are not really our true intentions for each other
Three - for both of us to be willing to agree that we might be wrong - we must allow ourselves to soften our hard stands. We must both we willing to agree that we might be wrong on some counts. The truth is usually very different from what any of us think.
These are three tenets I propose to solving a conflict. And when we get stuck on point two or three, the key is to go back to point one and re-clarify our common goal. That it where we usually go wrong. We rarely make the effort to re-clarify our goals. That is where the maximum amount of time actually needs to be spent.
And finally, none of this can happen without one essential ingredient - love. The intent to find peace and truth. The intent to let go of the untrue, the ego. The purity of wanting to be happy together. That is love. In the final analysis, only love is needed.