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When you’re experiencing conflict, try this


Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance. – Robert Quillen

My bookkeeper often says “Take the roof off all of our houses and they’re all the same on the inside.”  I think it’s a great way to just say, that we’re all pretty similar, no matter what we have.

We’ve all had disagreements with people and suddenly realized that we’ve had the exact same disagreement at one time or another, often with the same person.  A friend and I were talking last week and I mentioned that I thought there were some number of basic arguments that people have and that they just present themselves in different forms and that we simply end up on different sides of them over time. As he and I talked about this, we did some research and learned that there was a general belief that all conflict is caused by one of some common issues.  One source that I found cited eight basic sources of conflict and I thought that it summed up many issues well.  The sources of conflict were:

  1. Facts,
  2. Definitions,
  3. Values,
  4. Signalling,
  5. Failures of logic,
  6. How we process information,
  7. Default beliefs and
  8. Self-interest.

For example, you pull up to a four-way stop sign and the person to your left goes before you.  There may be an misunderstanding of definitions (‘the driver to the left always goes first’), facts (‘I was here first’) or self-interest (‘I’m really in a rush, I need to go NOW’).  At school, the conflict may take shape of two students arguing over what someone said about someone else.  In this case it may be a misunderstanding of facts (‘You said X, I said Y’), logic (‘You said X and meant Y’) or any other number of sources.

The next time you end up in some type of conflict, simplify it by considering the root of your problem and what side of it you’re standing on and this may help you get past the conflict and move towards an understanding.

To your success,


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