Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Perspective Taking and Conflict Resolution in Everyday Life

The magnificent Stevie Wonder performs a Beatles song with the Obama family and Paul McCartney in the audience.

"Try to see things my way," as the song goes. "Life is very short, and there's no time for fussing and fighting," it is said, making the task at hand urgent: We can work it out.

I've always liked this song. It speaks to my idealistic (naive) side in which I am inclined to believe that people with different viewpoints can arrive at a realistic solution. But there are questions to consider: What are factors that inhibit communication between parties with different perspectives? Can contrasting beliefs and views always be reconciled? Aren't there times when impasse is inevitable? Unfortunately, there are times when we come to a dead end. In those cases, no productive solution lies ahead. This can happen in any type of relationship: friendship, romance, marriage, work, politics, etc. Conflicts occur in all corners of life.

"Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong" are words to suggest that one clings to a position, convinced it's the correct one to take. As if to say, I believe I am right, at least right now. If you would just listen to me and take my perspective, we could work things out. We don't have the luxury of time. Let's settle this quarrel or else "our love may soon be gone." The stakes are high, so it's crucial to work it out immediately. But is a compromise in mind? Is it implied that the parties should meet somewhere in the middle? In reality, taking someone else's perspective may not be enough to get to the root of the problem.

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