from Larry Barkan: Want To Resolve Conflicts? Listen To Those Who "Should" You
Sent Tuesday, August 3, 2010View as plaintext
# Of Words: 347
Reading Time: 3 Minutes
"One of the quickest ways to find out if you are wrong is to state
what you believe."
Penn Jilette, half of the illusionist duo Penn and Teller
In her book, "Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margins of Error,"
Kathryn Schulz notes that when we differ with others, we first
assume they are ignorant, then idiotic and, finally, evil.
Schulz further points out how much we love to be right and how we
assume that we almost always are.
Conflict, whether interpersonal or international, is created by
conflicting perceptions based on conflicting beliefs.
Because we think that what we believe about a situation is
inherently correct, the other person must be "ignorant, idiotic or
evil" not to see that.
But, as Schulz further reminds us, our beliefs are largely the
result of "accidents" of birth. Because we were born in a
particular place, to a particular family we came to adopt
particular beliefs. Had we been born in different circumstances,
our beliefs might be exactly those of the people with whom we
currently disagree. Education is the process of realizing, as Penn
Jilette suggests, that our beliefs, when examined, often prove less
than universally true.
Note that I altered Jilette's language from "wrong" to "less than
universally true." Beliefs aren't wrong or right. They're just
beliefs and they can contribute to conflict when unexamined.
That's why resolving conflicts always involves listening to others
so that they can "educate" us about how their beliefs differ from
We should especially listen to people who tell us how we "should"
behave. Hearing someone "should" us is often a signal for the
rebellious child within to get angry and ask, "Who are you to tell
me how I should behave?"
Who "they" are, in fact, are people who have different beliefs and,
therefore, may be giving us the exact advice that will transform
our lives if we will only listen.
The Beatles sang, "Listen. Do you want to know a secret?" The
"secret" is to listen to those "shoulds." Contained within them may
be the "secret" to our future success.