Sunday, November 9, 2008


So, negotiation power is not just based on brute physical or economic force. On occasion, power is derived from conviction. Power can be derived from an imbalance of desire. In the case of same sex marriage, the strength of the status quo is derived in part from how much those favoring same sex marriage desire to change the system. The desire for change – in and of itself – grants the status quo power, more than it deserves.

I know this is a little bit of an obtuse point, but it can be illustrated by a simple example from interpersonal relationships. I’m referring to "puppy love" power. The young, ardent admirer who is smitten with puppy love for the love object has submitted to the power of the love object, whether it be the teeny-bopper celebrity (and their marketers) or the kid next door. By desiring an object or a person, the power is bestowed upon another that can either provide or not provide the desired object. Once power is acquiesced, the conflict begins: Does he like me? Can I see him? Oh no, he doesn’t like me. I’ve had teenage daughters. I know how it goes.

The resolution of conflict, then, is in part surrendering the desire for a specific outcome. Being wedded to the outcome adds to or creates the conflict and prevents attempts to find alternate solutions. This is not to say that ardent support of a concept is inviting conflict, just that being wedded to a solitary outcome hampers discussion and problem solving. Demanding a set outcome is an invitation to conflict. Desire the outcome, but desire resolution more.

Invigorated is the emotion I’ve been feeling most since the election. The arguments and the conflicts remain the same, but simply having the hope that my voice could be heard makes me want to speak out more. While appearing counter-intuitive, an environment that encourages disagreement and dialogue is more likely to foster conflict resolution than an environment that discourages, limits or most importantly ignores dissent.

I hope that is the spirit of this blog – a forum for respectful and heated discussion that are argued from foundational principals. Conflict can’t be resolved unless you start from a place of agreement. Finding disagreement is easy. Finding the area of agreement within the disagreement is the first step towards resolution. Follow this first step with an understanding of the power dynamic of the disagreement and with an eye to areas of unused power or improperly surrendered power and resolution becomes more likely. The conflicts of fall and winter can progress seasonally into the resolution of spring and summer and the seasons of conflict and resolution can begin yet again.

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