Two noblemen are having a conflict. One of them is angry, and the other man can feel himself getting angry too. The second nobleman feels distressed and hurt. He describes, in detail, how - and how much - he would like to punch the first nobleman in the face. Then he describes all the times when someone made him angry and distressed and what he would like to do to them. The first nobleman listens attentively and sees how the second nobleman begins to feel better. Now the first nobleman begins to identify his own feeling of anger …

''Once upon a time, there was a man who resolved conflicts by focusing on emotions and being uncompromising.''

The notion of conflict

A conflict triggers an emotional, physical and mental response in us. We get angry, irritated and distressed, our chest and stomach tense up, and we focus our mind on finding solutions. Paradoxically, our personal ability to contribute to a constructive solution deteriorates precisely when we need our creative and constructive capacities most. When we are in a conflict with someone, we thus have at least two problems to grapple with at once: there is the content of the conflict itself, and there are the emotional issues that emerge in each of the persons engaged in the conflict. A state bordering on obsession hampers their creativity and reduces even their interest in contributing to a constructive solution.

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