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The One Thing That Each Of Us Can Do To Reduce Conflict In The World

One of the most valuable lessons I learned while studying mediation and conflict resolution was that no matter how “cooperative” and “empathetic” we may think we are: there is always room for improvement. Quote of the year: “We All Have Internal Biases.”


Biases are our internal assumptions. We need to make quick assumptions and assessments every day in life. This is what helps us make decisions. We take our learned background information and apply it to our everyday life. For example: don’t pick up strangers. We follow this as a general policy for our driving and personal safety. We tailor our general rule with other biases: don’t pick up any strangers who are 6 feet tall, are wearing a dark hoody, sporting a bunch of facial hair and who smell like they haven’t bathed in a while. However, we CAN pick up a random child or young girl who looks lost. These are just examples: We will let you ponder on how many variations to this rule that you may have, and in doing so you will see that through the years we all develop certain assumptions that help us make quick judgement calls but that these “assumptions” and “judgements” can lead to internal biases.


Unfortunately, our biases can get in the way of our decision making, or cloud our lens in how we view things. For example, we may assume that because we are naturally a nice and accommodating person that we are right and that our intentions somehow make our positions “better” or “more right” than that other person, who may be articulating themselves in a “less professional” way. Add on top of that, that we are living in a fast-paced and rushed society, where taking the time to really listen to the other person may not be what we desire to do or feel that we can, or should, do.


That, my friend, is our personal challenge: taking the time to ask questions, stay in the moment, and truly listen to the other party’s point of view. This is the one thing that each of us can do to make our world more conflict free.