Firstly, let me confess to being excited to an undignified degree about the prospect of seeing J K Rowling’s latest cinematic effort “Fantastic Beasts…” I am more than ready for a dose of fantasy, spectacle and the prospect of some happy(ish) endings. My other half however remains unconvinced and has an air of tolerantly indulging my juvenile whims.
One of the key constructs of Rowling’s world is the parallel development of 2 macro cultures – the wizarding world and the muggle world and the tension, fear and sometimes enmity between the two. In the mediation room, as in life, much strife originates not from the essential differences between 2 people or 2 groups but from our deep-seated belief that either everyone is like us or that they jolly well should be.
Discussing an intra team-conflict in a recent skills development workshop one delegate offered “But I understand that Hannah doesn’t mean it like that and so should they.” I had a moment of quiet satisfaction when one of his colleagues piped up “But that supposes that they are all exactly like you. And they aren’t. Are they?” As the discussion continued I could see the penny dropping for several people around the room.
Even when we profess ourselves champions of diversity, even if we are ardent campaigners for the benefits of cherishing and embracing difference, as we enter a conflict we are likely to expect (demand?) that everyone shares the same world view as us. If we can get a hold of ourselves in the moment and remember that they don’t and can’t, then we have a golden opportunity to change the progress and outcome of that conflict situation.
Laying down the law about our viewpoint, which we often describe as “telling it like it is”, is likely to deepen and lengthen a conflict.
Describing how we view the situation and inviting the other party to share how they view the situation is the beginning of a rational and productive dialogue.
Whether you are Wizard, Muggle or Fantastic Beast, I wish you a peaceful and productive week.